The religious dimension of Christmas… reading in opinion polls‎

Dr. Samir Abu Rumman

Despite the difference between Christian denominations on the day on which Christ was born, as most of them celebrate on December 25, while others celebrate on January 6, Christmas is considered a sacred religious holiday and a global cultural phenomenon, and Christians celebrate it all over the world. With diverse traditions and practices, religious and non-religious, and since 1870, Christmas has been considered a federal holiday in the United States!

Pew surveys, between 2013 and 2017, revealed some features that express the division of Americans on Christmas, both in terms of religious beliefs associated with it, the style of celebration and going to church, and the way of greeting between the use of religious phrases “Merry Christmas” or General expressions of congratulations, the use of religious symbols in government websites and other matters.

Among the most prominent of these features is the decline in the percentage of those who believe in the birth of Christ, as mentioned in the Bible, whether they believe that Christ was born to a virgin 66% compared to 73% in 2013, or that the angels announced his birth 67% compared to 74% in 2013.

Nine out of ten Americans celebrate Christmas, and half of them go to church, but a third of them do not see that this holiday is related to religion, and the majority of Americans 56% believe that the religious character of Christmas has become less than it was in the past, despite When 30% see that it has not changed, while 12% believe that the religious character has become more.

The division in positions is clear according to party affiliation. Where Republicans, more than Democrats, see the religious dimension of Christmas as less than it was before, 68% to 50%, and they are more likely than Democrats to use the phrase “Merry Christmas” than “Merry Christmas” Happy Holidays’ or ‘Season’s Greetings, 54% to 19%, although Trump has stated on numerous occasions, since his selection as a presidential candidate in 2015, that he will end what he described as the war on Christmas, and will reuse the phrase More religious, but more than half of Americans see no difference between using any of the phrases, and Republicans also tend to allow Christian religious symbols to be displayed on public property more than Democrats, 79% versus 60%.

At the generational level, millennials, who were born in the period between the mid-eighties and maximum to the mid-90s, tend more than others to view Christmas more culturally than religious, and are less concerned with the phrases used to congratulate, and less festive than He changed his religious aspects such as going to church and participating in hymns, in return for his interest, more than others, in social aspects such as buying gifts for family and friends and setting up a Christmas tree.

And if the religious dimension associated with Christmas is lower among Americans, it is less than that among Europeans. According to Pew polls, Europeans in general are less religious than Americans, as the percentage of those who believe in the existence of a higher power does not exceed 38%, and 27 Only 1% believe in the existence of a God as stated in the Bible, and 36% believe that governments should support religious values ​​and beliefs. At the level of Germany, an opinion poll conducted by the Ellensbach Institute, which specializes in measuring public opinion, showed that the percentage of people attending Catholic and Protestant churches to pray from time to time has declined from about 60% during the 1960s to 32% currently.

Perhaps these results add a new dimension to the Islamic discussion and fatwas about the permissibility of congratulating Christians on their holidays, as the Christian celebrations of Christmas have become today, to a large extent, a holiday and festive in which the religious mixes with the social and entertainment, and it is no longer purely religious celebrations as it was, and its connection will be less. More religious in the future!