83% of Americans are Christian.
However, only 2/3 of Christians view Christmas as a religious holiday and 1/3 as a cultural holiday. My high math skills also tells me that 17% of Americans are not Christian, of which apparently 80% celebrate Christmas as a cultural holiday. In other words, approximately 40% of Americans view Christmas as a cultural holiday.
Despite the popularity of Christmas, compared to our childhood, we are less likely to participate in Christmas rituals like going to a holiday party (91 vs. 86%), putting up a tree (92 vs. 79%), or sending holiday cards (81 vs. 65%). We’ve seem to have given up on pretending there is a Santa (72 vs. 31%). Even buying gifts may have gone down (89 vs. 86%).
So why does it seem we make an even bigger deal about Christmas these days? It seems the entire month of December is given over to Christmas, and much of November now. I can’t find a single family event in Richmond in December that doesn’t have a Christmas theme. There’s hardly a store in town that isn’t playing holiday music or sporting holiday décor all month long.
I don’t even feel comfortable saying this aloud (so instead I’ll blog about it on the internet): It’s not that I dislike Christmas. I just wish there were a little less of it. I would just enjoy Christmas more if it weren’t everywhere, everything, all month long.
In contrast, the most important holiday for the Chinese is Chinese New Years. Approximately 1/6 of the world’s population lives in China. That does not count the rest of the world’s ethnic Chinese and other Asians that celebrate this holiday. Is there a single event in Richmond that I can go to each year to celebrate Chinese New Years? Where’s the parade with firecrackers? Does anyone in the grocery store wish me a Happy New Year in February? What if I got mad at them for not doing so and complain to the manager or write a letter to the editor about the War on Chinese New Years? I can’t even find red envelopes at the Martin’s, CVS or Target. Ai ya.
That being said, given that 92% of Americans celebrate Christmas in some manner, IMHO it’s appropriate for the Christmas theme to pervade our culture. I simply ask that if we’re not all so gung ho about it all month, please do not judge us. We are busy figuring out what date Chinese New Years falls this year and planning our private, solo event. Gung Hay Fat Choy!