Half Of Americans Celebrating Christmas Don't Think Of It As A Religious Holiday, Says New Study

Hold the sleigh, everyone. Christmas is around the corner, but apparently not everyone who celebrates the holiday actually believes in all of the religious hoopla about the birth of Christ. According to a new Pew Research Center study, nine out of 10 Americans participate in celebrating Christmas, but only about half of those people actually see the holiday as religious. As it turns out, the majority of people participate in Christmas festivities for cultural and social reasons — not because they whole-heartedly believe in Jesus. The survey notes that nearly all Christians celebrate Christmas, while 80 percent of non-Christians said they also celebrate.

"Younger adults are less likely than older adults to see Christmas a religious rather than cultural holiday, they're less likely to say they will attend Christmas services and they are less likely to believe in the virgin birth," said Greg Smith, director of U.S. religion surveys at the Pew Research Center's Religion and Public Life Project. "It's consistent with a lot of research that says young people are quite distinctive in the way they approach religion, with young people leading the growth of the religiously unaffiliated."

This news probably shouldn’t come as a huge shock to anyone, considering a new poll just recently found that the percentage of Americans who believe in God is at an all-time low. As Bustle reported:

A Harris Poll found that, while most U.S. adults believe in God (for all religions), the percentage of believers has declined from 82 percent in 2005 to 74 percent today. Faith in religious phenomena has also decreased, with less people believing in miracles, heaven, hell, the resurrection of Jesus, and the Virgin Birth. Conversely, belief in Darwin’s theory of evolution has increased 5 percent from 42 percent in 2005 to 47 percent today. Let’s also note that of all the political parties, Republicans are the least likely to believe in evolution (36 percent Republicans, 52 percent Democrats, 51 percent Independents).

Unsurprisingly, the poll found that older generations are more likely to believe in God and religious phenomena than their younger counterparts. In fact, since 2007 the number of Americans who identify themselves as “not religious at all” has nearly doubled from 12 percent to 23 percent.

It makes sense that only half of the people who celebrate Christmas view it as a religious holiday if only 74 percent of Americans believe in God.

In scarier news, the same Pew study revealed that about three in four surveyed people really believe in virgin birth — and not just when it comes to Jesus. As Bustle reported:

Nearly one percent of young American mothers believe they had babies by immaculate conception (or at least that’s their story and they’re sticking to it). Researchers surveyed more than 7,800 women ages 15 to 28 and found that about one in 200 Gen Y moms say they were virgins at the time they gave birth.

The results — published in the British Medical Journal under the title “Like a Virgin (Mother)” — come from the long-running National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, which began tracking 12 to 18-year-old girls in the 1994-95 school year. Of the group, 5,340 women became pregnant, including 45 (0.8 percent of pregnant women) who report that they conceived without having sex or IVF.

Although these “virgin pregnancies” were relatively rare, the phenomenon was more common among women who signed chastity pledges or whose parents “indicated lower levels of communication with their children about sex and birth control,” the study authors point out. About a third of the self-reported virgin moms had signed chastity pledges, compared to 15 percent of the general group.