The Rasmussen Reports polling company tells us Americans are almost evenly divided over whether the Christmas season a joyous or a stressful time. They also found that 95 percent of Evangelical Christians believe Christmas should be celebrated in schools, as do 87 percent of Catholics and 79 percent of other Protestants. And here’s the kicker: Rasmussen’s survey found that 57 percent of adults of other faiths and atheists think schools should allow Christmas celebrations.
Pew Research Center also found a surprising number of non-Christians joining in the celebrations. Pew tells us that 81 percent of non-Christians in the United States celebrate Christmas, evidence of the holiday’s wide cultural acceptance—or unavoidability—in American society.
While those polls are interesting, another type of pole also made its way into news cycles in the 2013 Christmas season. “Festivus” poles were placed near traditional nativity scenes in at least two state capitols, those of Florida and Wisconsin. Festivus, as we were reminded, is a mock holiday invented by writers of the Seinfeld television show, with the slogan “Festivus for the rest of us.” Not a bad showing for a program that ceased production 15 years ago.
If we’re welcoming joy to the world in a season that’s supposed to be merry and bright, why not? Santa Claus, the Grinch and Rudolph just might be ready to welcome another icon to the seasonal merriment.
Pew’s research also found a smaller percentage of Americans in agreement about the reason for the season. Pew’s pollsters say the percentage of Americans identifying themselves as Christians dropped from 78 percent of adults in 2007 to 73 percent in 2012.
It’s been reassuring to see traditional celebrations and expressions of faith in our part of the world. Leading up to Thanksgiving and in the weeks since, these pages have carried articles, photos and announcements of quite a number of charitable acts, concerts, parades, lighting displays, tree-lighting programs, and other events organized to help share the joy of Christmas and the reason for the season.
Talladega’s Chamber of Commerce also introduced a week-long Santa’s Workshop where kids could visit Santa on the square.
Our secularized observances of Christmas bear witness to the strength and endurance of a faith so integral to our national identity that a high percentage of non-believers join in the celebrations. It’s a great time to remember the reasons for the season—peace on earth, good will toward men, and the one who taught us to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Those are indeed good tidings of great joy. May they be yours this Christmas and throughout the year.