Changing face of Christmas

More Americans celebrate, but fewer believe the Bible stories

In honor of Christmas, the Pew Research Center conducted a phone poll earlier this month to determine views on the holiday and Christianity. Overall, the findings pointed to the holiday becoming more social and less religious, with fewer believing the Bible’s rendition of events actually happened and fewer celebrating for mostly religious reasons. Here are some of the findings:

• 90 percent of Americans celebrate Christmas, but only 46 percent say they celebrate primarily for religious (versus cultural) reasons.

• 52 percent say they don’t care whether stores greet them with “merry Christmas” or “happy holidays,” though 54 percent of Republicans and 19 percent of Democrats say they prefer “merry Christmas.”

• The percentage of people who believe in the Christmas Bible stories is dropping, with 66 percent saying Jesus was born to a virgin (down from 73 percent three years ago); 75 percent believing he was laid in a manger (versus 81 percent in 2014); 68 percent saying wise men brought him gifts (versus 75 percent); and 67 percent that an angel announced his birth (down from 74 percent).