With nine in ten Americans getting ready to celebrate Christmas in a few weeks, I’m sure there are many people out there considering how things have changed since they were children. I can still very vividly remember all of the excitement, carols, food and of course presents of Christmases past and miss them incredibly. This is particularly relevant for me as this year will be my first holiday spent away from my family and instead with my husband and his. I will admit to some amount of nerves that the way they celebrate won’t be quite what I’m used to and that I may pine for the familiar, but I know I will be surrounded by people I love and am eagerly anticipating another great holiday season.
Pew research conducted a survey asking over 2000 older adults to compare their celebrations this year to those they remember as a child. So how have holiday activities changed?
While we can see that some themes have remained the same, there are also some big differences. Caroling has definitely become less common and individuals are far less likely to send Christmas cards, attend a religious service or pretend Santa Claus will be coming to visit for a member of the household. However, some things appear to remain reasonably constant: visiting with family and friends over the holiday period and exchanging gifts with each other.
There are definitely generational differences at work too. Older adults are far more likely to have a religious component of their celebrations and those under 30 are more likely to view Christmas as a cultural holiday. For most age groups however, the key likes and dislikes are similar, with spending time with loved ones being voted overwhelmingly as the best part of Christmas and commercialism/materialism being the worst. Even the majority of those who don’t celebrate Christmas as either a religious or cultural holiday will be looking forward to spending that time period with family and friends.
What are your memories from Christmases past? Do you celebrate differently now? Please share your experiences!