Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.
The mythical war on Christmas probably ended last year, when bizarrely, Fox News sent its staff a Season’s Greetings holiday card, effectively abandoning its decade-long battle-cry of “Merry Christmas.” After a concession like that, what’s left to debate? Still, we’re not too far removed from this ridiculous right-wing conspiracy to avoid a recap. The debate began in 2005, largely fueled by the conservative shock-jocks of talk radio, and escalated as they made enemies out of everything from Starbucks coffee cups to the Obamas’ annual December card. Depending on your views, saying “Happy Holidays” is either a considerate acknowledgment of American religious diversity or an attack against Christianity. During his campaign, Donald Trump jumped on the bandwagon when he told crowds in Iowa, “I’m a good Christian. If I become president, we’re gonna be saying Merry Christmas at every store…You can leave Happy Holidays at the corner.”
He has yet to make good on that particular promise to his base, despite some strange claims last week that he’d miraculously and single-handedly restored the Christmas liberals had supposedly stolen from American Christians during the Obama years. Regardless, conservative Americans need not fear: their holiday is alive and well, neither drowned by growing multiculturalism nor commercialized to the point of destruction by the forces of capitalism. And while Bill O’Reilly can shout all he wants that “Happy Holidays” is an affront to the birth of Jesus, here are six signs that Christmas is alive and well.
1. Almost everyone celebrates Christmas.
In a survey conducted by YourStorageFinder, which asked 2,006 people from all 50 states about their feelings on the holidays, 95.7% said they celebrated Christmas. By comparison, for every American who celebrates Hanukkah, there are 14 who celebrate Christmas. For Kwanzaa, the ratio is 1 to 49.
Christmas’ popularity defies even religion: About eight in 10 non-Christians in the U.S. celebrate Christmas, according to a Pew poll.
2. Most Americans still say ‘Merry Christmas.’
The same survey found that of the millions of holiday cards Americans send in the mail each December, “Merry Christmas” is still the most popular greeting. It appears on 60.4% of all cards sent. “Happy Holidays” was a distant second, at 27.9%.
Interestingly (and not surprisingly, as the GOP contains less diversity than the Democratic Party), Republicans were far more likely to say they sent “Merry Christmas” cards.
3. More Christmas trees were sold last year than ever.
This one is a win for conservatives who rage about the war on Christmas, and a possible loss for environmentalists: Christmas trees are more popular than ever. In 2016, Americans bought 46 million trees, a huge increase over 2015 when 38.4 million trees were sold.
4. Christmas music tops the charts.
Of the 14 pop songs that made Fuse’s list of the best new holiday music this year, all are Christmas songs. Similarly, Parade’s list of the 12 best holiday albums of the year also features 100% Christmas albums.
Historically, Billboard agrees: Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas” still dominates the season at #1, and eight of the top 10 holiday songs of all time are explicitly about Christmas. Holiday music defies religion: some of the most popular classics—“White Christmas” and “The Christmas Song” (“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire/Jack Frost nipping at your nose…”)—were written by Jewish composers.
5. People are spending more money than ever on Christmas presents.
Americans plan to spend an average of $983 on holiday gifts this year, according to the American Research Group. That’s $54 more than they spent on average in 2016.
6. Non-Christian people don’t mind being wished a ‘Merry Christmas.’
Americans are not as sensitive about holiday greetings as conservatives would have you think. Plenty of American Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and others agree that “Merry Christmas” does not offend non-Christians by omission.
Liz Posner is a managing editor at AlterNet. Her work has appeared on Forbes.com, Bust, Bustle, Refinery29, and elsewhere. Follow her on Twitter at @elizpos.