ST. LEO, Fla. (WFLA) – An overwhelming majority of Americans still prefer “Merry Christmas” over the more inclusive “Happy Holidays,” a new poll from Saint Leo University says.
The survey was conducted online between Nov. 13 and Nov. 18 among a base of 1,000 respondents nationally. The results show a vast majority of people – 72.3 percent of those polled – are wishing a “Merry Christmas,” as opposed to “Happy Holidays.” The latter is the preferred greeting of 20.5 percent. Even fewer respondents – only 3 percent – preferred “Season’s Greetings.”
“Proponents of these greetings hail them as inclusive of faiths other than Christianity in our increasingly religiously diverse and multicultural context,” said Dr. Marc Pugliese, associate professor of religion. “On the other hand, there are strong opponents of these religious-neutral greetings on the Christian right, who variously claim they are concessions to a culture of political correctness, cave-ins to consumerism and materialism and/or symptomatic of rising secularism.”
“In the last decade and half or so, there also has been a conservative narrative that there is a ‘war on Christmas,’ which involves efforts to remove Christian religious elements of Christmas from the media, advertising, commerce and the public sphere in general,” Pugliese added.
The poll shows an increase in Americans celebrating Christmas, up to 88.9 percent from 85.2 percent in 2017.
In 2019, 19.1 percent of those who say they celebrate Christmas say they view the holiday as all or mostly religious. This is an increase from 15.3 percent in the university’s 2017 poll. The polling institute also found that those who view Christmas as all or mostly cultural dropped from 43.1 percent in 2017 to 39.6 percent in 2019.
“This is a notable reversal of recently observed trends. It is especially striking because the number of people who identify as Catholic and Christian, including evangelical Protestant, continues to decline,” said Pugliese. “The 1972 General Social Survey showed just one in 20 individuals identified themselves as religiously unaffiliated. In the 2018 General Social Survey, almost one-quarter of the population self-identified as religiously unaffiliated.”