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03 November 2016

Christmas facts and surveys

Christmas facts and surveys

Modern Celebration of Christmas

Belief in the Christmas story
In a survey done by YouGov in 2014 they found more than around 50 per cent of people don't believe the following aspects of the Christmas story:

  • An angel of the Lord appeared to shepherds to announce the birth of Jesus (51% don't believe it, 20% don't know and 28% do believe it)
  • Wise men were guided by a star and bought Jesus gold, frankincense and myrrh (44% don't believe it, 19% don't know and 37% do believe it)
  • The newborn baby Jesus was laid in a manger (47% don't believe it, 24% don't know and 29% believe it)

Internet shopping on Christmas day - a popular activity?

Shopping on Christmas day has been a popular activity. In 2015 record numbers were expected to spend “a significant proportion” of their Christmas day shopping online, spending an estimated £728m, up 11 per cent on the £658m spent in 2014. 
Reported in The Independent 25 December 2015.

Spending predictions for Christmas 2016:

  • Internet shopping analysts are predicting that Black Friday shopping in November 2016 will be a five-day weekend event with sales expected to reach £5billion
  • Spending on Christmas advertising will be at its highest ever with retailers spending £5.6 billion in the run up to Christmas 2016, £300million more than in 2015
  • In a survey for finance website Bobatoo, 60 per cent of respondents said they will spend £100-£200 on gifts for their partner, but children fare even better with 58 per cent of parents saying they will spend £100-£300 on gifts for each child. The average amount spent on Christmas presents overall is between £500 and £700.
Sources: Internet retailing, Guardian, Bobatoo

Food, drink and gifts going to waste

Last year, 4.2 million Christmas dinners were wasted across the United Kingdom, according to Unilever. The figure is the equivalent to 263,000 turkeys; 7.5 million mince pies; 740,000 slices of Christmas pudding; 17.2 million Brussels sprouts; 11.9 million carrots and 11.3 million roast potatoes.

Reported in The Independent 4 December 2015

Adults in the UK receive £2.6billion worth of unwanted gifts at Christmas, according to research published in 2014 by Triodos Bank. The study found that 32 per cent of people receive at least one unwanted present every year with an average value of £155. Of those who received unwanted goods, 14 per cent said they were worth at least £500 while three per cent of the men questioned admitted being given an unwanted present with a value of £1,000 or more. 

Knowledge of the Nativity story

In a survey of parents and their children undertaken by ICM for the Bible Society in December 2012, 22 per cent of parents and 18 per cent scored eight out of 10 in a Nativity knowledge quiz:

8% knew Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Luke 2  4)

2. 89% knew Mary put the baby Jesus in a manger (Luke 2  7)

3. 83% knew the Angel Gabriel told Mary she would give birth (Luke 1  26)

4. 77% knew Herod was king at the time (Matthew 2  1)

5. 63% knew the angels were the first to announce the news  (Luke 2  15)

6. 52% knew Mary and Joseph were travelling because they has been ordered to register with the authorities (Luke 2  1)  

7. 46% knew the shepherds were first to visit Jesus  (Luke 2  16)

8. 32% knew the word Immanuel (Matthew 1  23) means 'God is with us' 

9. 26% knew Mary and Joseph were engaged when she found out she was going to have a baby (Matthew 1  18)

10. 14% knew the wise men travelled West following the star to Jerusalem (Matthew 2  1)

- See more at: http://www.biblesociety.org.uk/news/children-and-parents-6-out-of-10-score-on-nativity-knowledge/#sthash.kly7p54x.dpuf

On average parents and children scored 6 out of 10.  22% of parents and 18% of children scored 8 out of 10 or more. 

Just over half the families (52%) planned to go to a school nativity this year. 

According to the survey, these are the ten best-known facts about the nativity:

1. 98% knew Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Luke 2  4)

2. 89% knew Mary put the baby Jesus in a manger (Luke 2  7)

3. 83% knew the Angel Gabriel told Mary she would give birth (Luke 1  26)

4. 77% knew Herod was king at the time (Matthew 2  1)

5. 63% knew the angels were the first to announce the news  (Luke 2  15)

6. 52% knew Mary and Joseph were travelling because they has been ordered to register with the authorities (Luke 2  1)  

7. 46% knew the shepherds were first to visit Jesus  (Luke 2  16)

8. 32% knew the word Immanuel (Matthew 1  23) means 'God is with us' 

9. 26% knew Mary and Joseph were engaged when she found out she was going to have a baby (Matthew 1  18)

10. 14% knew the wise men travelled West following the star to Jerusalem (Matthew 2  1)

- See more at: http://www.biblesociety.org.uk/news/children-and-parents-6-out-of-10-score-on-nativity-knowledge/#sthash.kly7p54x.dpuf

On average parents and children scored 6 out of 10.  22% of parents and 18% of children scored 8 out of 10 or more. 

Just over half the families (52%) planned to go to a school nativity this year. 

According to the survey, these are the ten best-known facts about the nativity:

1. 98% knew Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Luke 2  4)

2. 89% knew Mary put the baby Jesus in a manger (Luke 2  7)

3. 83% knew the Angel Gabriel told Mary she would give birth (Luke 1  26)

4. 77% knew Herod was king at the time (Matthew 2  1)

5. 63% knew the angels were the first to announce the news  (Luke 2  15)

6. 52% knew Mary and Joseph were travelling because they has been ordered to register with the authorities (Luke 2  1)  

7. 46% knew the shepherds were first to visit Jesus  (Luke 2  16)

8. 32% knew the word Immanuel (Matthew 1  23) means 'God is with us' 

9. 26% knew Mary and Joseph were engaged when she found out she was going to have a baby (Matthew 1  18)

10. 14% knew the wise men travelled West following the star to Jerusalem (Matthew 2  1)

- See more at: http://www.biblesociety.org.uk/news/children-and-parents-6-out-of-10-score-on-nativity-knowledge/#sthash.kly7p54x.dpuf

What does Christmas mean to people and how will they be celebrating?
In a survey conducted by ComRes on behalf of Theos in December 2010 the following results were obtained:

  • 51 per cent agreed with the statement "the birth of Jesus is irrelevant to my Christmas", while 46 per cent disagreed with the statement.
  • 18 per cent agreed with the statement "I dread Christmas", while 81 per cent disagreed only 13 per cent agreed with the statement "I would borrow money to ensure I could afford to buy decent Christmas presents" - 86 per cent disagreed with the statement.
  • 54 per cent agreed "Christmas is over-rated", while 44 per cent disagreed with the statement.
  • 61 per cent agreed "Christmas is mainly for children", while 38 per cent disagreed.
  • 36 per cent said they would be attending a Christmas service. 62 per cent said they would not be going to a service and two per cent were unsure.

Source http://bit.ly/GU6S8g

 

The Religious Celebration of Christmas

Church attendance over Christmas
2.5 million people attended Church of England churches at Christmas 2015 (of whom 35 per cent received communion). During Advent, 2.3 million people attended special services for the congregation and local community, and 2.7 million people attended special services for civic organisations and schools.

Christmas attendance at cathedrals was 125,200 in 2015, the highest figure since 2011. There were 33,100 communicants at Christmas in 2015. Services during Advent, the period leading up to Christmas, attracted an attendance of 824,300 in 2015, the highest figure for the past decade. All events and services from the beginning of Advent to 23 December are captured in the Advent total. 

https://www.churchofengland.org/media/3331683/2015statisticsformission.pdf 
https://www.churchofengland.org/media/2859050/2015_cathedral_statistics.pdf

Why do occasional churchgoers go to church at Christmas?
In an essay entitled How far is Bethlehem? exploring the ordinary theology of occasional churchgoers by David Walker, the results of surveys of attenders at services in Worcester and Lichfield cathedral were published. Here are some of his findings:
Motivation for going to the service

  • 94 per cent said their motivation was the music.
  • 75 per cent said they wanted to be reminded of the Christmas story.
  • 55 per cent said they wanted to feel close to God.
  • 55 per cent said they wanted to worship God.
  • 52 per cent said they wanted to find the true meaning of Christmas

What kind of service?

  • 78 per cent said they prefer the service to be candlelit.
  • 76 per cent said they prefer traditional rather than modern hymns.
  • 94 per cent said they expected the service to be uplifting.
Belief in the Christmas story among occasional churchgoers
  • 58 per cent believed in the birth took place in a stable
  • 57 per cent believe in the role of the shepherds
  • 55 per cent in the wise men
  • 42 per cent in the virgin birth.

Reported on www.brin.ac.uk on 12 June 2013
The essay by Dave Walker is published in a collection of essays entitled Ordinary Theology: Everyday Christian believing and the Church edited by Jeff Astley and Leslie Francis published by Ashgate 2013.

Christian resources for churches and schools

The Evangelical Alliance information and research office has prepared a list of resources to help you plan a special service, talk or school assembly. The listing also includes sources for alternative gift solutions here.


Christmas cards, Christmas trees, Christmas Lights and Christmas carols

Christmas Carols
The largest group of carol singers, according to the Guiness Book of Records, gathered in Nigeria in 2014. 25,272 from Godswill Akpabio Unity Choir  sang Joy to the world, Oh come all ye faithfull, Oh Christmas tree, Hark the herald sing, Once in Royal David's City and The first noel.

Christmas Trees
The tradition of displaying and decorating at tree at Christmas originates from Europe with records of trees decorated with sweets at guild halls in Germany and Livonia (Latvia and Estonia) in the 15th century. It's origins probably go back even further however with "paradise trees" decorated with apples being used in the medieval mystery plays that told the story of Adam and Eve that were performed on 24th December a possible fore-runner.  Trees or evergreen decorations used as symbols of eternal life or protection from evil were also common in some parts pre-Christian Europe.
According to the Forrestry Commission 90% of British families put up a Christmas tree.

The British Christmas Tree Growers Association say their members sell eight million real Christmas trees every year. 

The most expensively decorated Christmas tree was on display in 2011 in Abu Dhabi it was 43 feet high and was covered in 181 items of jewellery valued at £6,975,880.
http://eauk.co/1HEIRzq

Christmas cards
The sale of single Christmas cards account for 12 per cent of the total retail value of the UK market.  In addition 900 million boxed cards, worth £2billion are sent each year.
http://eauk.co/1SFp35t

Charity Christmas cards
Charities in the UK receive an estimated £50 million from Christmas card sales. We have compiled a list of some suppliers of Christmas cards with Bible verses or a Christian theme for our Christmas resources page.

Christmas Lights
The world's largest Christmas lights display has been switched on in a shopping centre in Australia for the 2014 Christmas season. The display features 1.2 million LED lights and has been created to raise funds for a children's charity, the electricity the lights are using is being donated by the power company.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/30242088

No room for Christ on Christmas cards?
In research conduct for Bible Society in 2012 Neilson found out of 6,000 types of Christmas cards on sale that year in shops on 34 had nativity related scenes.
Source Daily Telegraph

The first Christmas card
The first commercial Christmas card was commissioned by Henry Cole in 1843. He ordered 1,000 copies of the card designed by John C Horsley which depict a family enjoying a festive drink together. Religious greetings cards came some years later. The cards were advertised for sale in the Athenaeum newspaper and cost six pennies each thus making them a very expensive luxury item. The card was described in the advert as 'Just published. A Christmas Congratulation Card: or picture emblematical of Old English Festivity to Perpetuate kind recollections between Dear Friends.' www.postalheritage.org.uk

Three of the remaining 18 cards from the first batch produced by Henry Cole were auctioned by Sotheby's in New York In December 2011. One card was sold for $10,500, another one sold for $4,250 and the card bearing the design pictured below sold for $7,000.
http://bit.ly/HfTRVj

First Christmas card