U.S. Belief in Christmas Events' Historicity Declines

Forty-six percent of celebrants view Christmas as "more of a religious holiday," while 33 percent see it as "more of a cultural holiday" and 9 percent see it as both.

A strong majority (90 percent) of U.S. adults will celebrate Christmas this year, down 2 percent from 2013, according to a Pew Research Center report released on Dec. 12.

Forty-six percent of celebrants view the observance as "more of a religious holiday," while 33 percent see it as "more of a cultural holiday" and 9 percent see it as both.

While a majority still affirms the historicity of the biblical Christmas story, a noticeable decline has taken place over the past four years.

Sixty-six percent of respondents currently affirm that Jesus was born of a virgin (down from 73 percent in 2014). Those who believe wise men were guided by a star declined 6 points to 75 percent over the same period.

Jesus being laid in a manger is now affirmed by 75 percent of U.S. adults (down from 81 percent 2014), and 67 percent say they believe angels announced Jesus' birth (a 7-point decline).

Overall, 57 percent of respondents affirm that all four events took place, down from 65 percent in 2014.

The religiously unaffiliated saw the most significant decline in affirmation of these four events in the biblical Christmas narratives, dropping 10 points to 11 percent. By comparison, Christian affirmation dropped 5 points to 76 percent.

In terms of Christmas Eve / Christmas Day events, 82 percent will gather with friends and family (a 4-point drop from 2013), while 51 percent plan to attend a religious service (down from 54 percent in 2013).

The so-called "War on Christmas" seems to be cooling off.

While a majority (56 percent) believes Christmas is emphasized less in 2017 than in the past, 25 percent of this group said this didn't bother them, while 18 percent said this "bothers me a lot" and 14 percent said this "bothers me some."

By comparison, 30 percent of respondents say Christmas is emphasized the same now as in the past, and 12 percent feel there is currently a great emphasis.

When asked about preferred greetings in stores or businesses during the holiday season, 52 percent said it didn't matter to them (up 7 points from 2005), while 32 percent prefer "Merry Christmas" (down from 43 percent) and 15 percent prefer "Happy Holidays / Season's Greetings" (up from 12 percent).

The full report is available here .

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