Is Christmas more about religion or presents? | The Tylt

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Is Christmas more about religion or presents?

Whether you agree that Christmas is all about presents or not, there's no question that the religious significance of the holiday is declining. According to the Pew Research Center, one in 10 Americans celebrate Christmas, yet: 

Today, 46% of Americans say they celebrate Christmas as primarily a religious (rather than cultural) holiday, down from 51% who said this in 2013, with Millennials less likely than other adults to say they celebrate Christmas in a religious way. A majority of U.S. adults (56%) also say religious aspects of Christmas are emphasized less in American society today than in the past, though relatively few are bothered by this trend.

For the devout, these figures are concerning. Christianity Today published its own statistics via research conducted by LifeWay Research, a research organization for Christian ministries. Christianity Today's Ed Stetzer writes: 

63% of Americans say people should visit church for Christmas.
79% agree that Christmas should be more about Jesus.

These numbers stand in contrast to Pew's research results. Regardless of which are correct, Stetzer's research clearly demonstrates the Christian desire to refocus Christmas on Jesus. 


Opening presents on Christmas morning may not be as old as the tradition of Christmas itself, but it is based on centuries of habit. According to The Week, gift-giving in the U.S. started to rise in the late 1600s: 

Rural Americans carved wooden toys and made pieces of needlework in the agricultural offseason to give to family members and neighbors. The Industrial Revolution saw those handmade items replaced with mass-manufactured trinkets and toys. By 1867, the holiday present industry was healthy enough for Macy's in New York City to keep its doors open until midnight on Christmas Eve for the first time.

Plus, the tradition of giving gifts on Christmas is based on the three wise men's gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the baby Jesus the night of his birth. In this sense, presents are rooted in Christmas's religious origins, making everyone happy. 

Commercial holidays like Black Friday and Cyber Monday have made Christmas gift-giving rise to new levels, and according to The Week:

... the average American is expected to spend $720 on gifts this year, according to the National Retail Federation.

When the country is tossing that kind of cash around every year, the real reason for the holiday becomes clear! 


Christian or not, many people prefer to celebrate Christmas by spreading the values Jesus stood for: love, service, and faith. 

There are ways to celebrate Christmas outside of giving needless gifts that honor these values, no matter your religion. ThoughtCo.'s Mary Fairchild proposes: 

Find someone with a genuine need, involve your whole family, and see how happy you can make him or her this Christmas.
Take a group Christmas caroling in a nursing home or a children's hospital.

And for those of the Christian faith, Fairchild suggests things like reading the Christmas story throughout the month of December, attending a Christmas Eve church service and sending Christmas cards to missionaries. 

The point is, Christmas can and should be about much more than presents. Jesus's values are applicable to all, and anyone who celebrates Christmas can take part in honoring them. 

Is Christmas more about religion or presents?
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