Only little over half (51%) of Americans now view Christmas as a religious holiday, while one-third (32%) consider it a cultural holiday. Additionaly, while about 70% of Americans say they typically attended Christmas Eve or Christmas Day religious services when they were children, only 54% say they plan to attend religious services this year.
These are among the findings of a Pew Research survey on Religion and Public life conducted Dec. 3-8, 2013.
The findings also suggest a generational component to the shift in how Americans view Christmas. Younger adults are less inclined to include religious aspects into their Christmas celebrations and see the holiday as a cultural phenomenon. They tend not to go to religious ceremonies and do not believe that Christ was born to a Virgin.
This is consistent with research that demonstrates that younger Americans are becoming more secular in how they live their lives.
Nonetheless, the survey did reveal that those that experience Christmas as a religious holiday and those that view it as a cultural one do have some things in common. Roughly 90% in both groups will draw together with family and friends and exchange gifts this Christmas. Moreover, one-third (33%) of both groups will pretend that the “right jolly old elf,” Santa Claus, will pay them a visit on Christmas Eve.