Christmas is round the corner and the  shopping frenzy has begun! Coming from a traditional Buddhist family, I have never formally celebrated Christmas. The emphasis here is “formally”. In other words, I still receive gifts from family and friends (though this dwindles as you grow older), go to parties, perhaps have some turkey, etc. I’m Christmassy and all just that I don’t go to church, do the carolling bits and have a Christmas tree at home (Mum thinks it’s troublesome but I’m still advocating it because it’s pretty!) So how many in Australia actually celebrate Christmas for “the birth of Christ”?

First, some facts about Christmas. It is unknown if Jesus Christ was ever born on December 25th. Some have theorised that he was actually born in January (something like the 6th, 7th or 19th). But nobody knew or could go back in time to verify and thus, instead of referring to it as the day Jesus was born, December 25th became the day to commemorate the birth of Christ. And tada! The day became known as “Christmas” as a derivative of “Christ’s Mass”.

So if your religion has any affiliations to Jesus Christ, you officially (and legitimately) celebrate Christmas! Let’s see how many in Australia can claim to do so. The table below shows the “Top 10 religions ranked for 2006/2001″.

With most our ancestors and migrants arriving from Europe and particularly the UK (refer here), it’s no surprise that the top 4 religions in Australia are Abrahamic religions and/or denominations of Christianity. In fact in 2006, 63.9% of the population proclaimed to be Christians.

What’s interesting to note though is the change between 2001 to 2006. There were fewer recorded Christians in total (although the Catholic faith continued to grow most likely due to migration and cultural factors) and there are more people claiming to have no religion (including our famous Jedis – refer here).

And the figures are sure to alter in the upcoming Census data release for 2011 in the coming year. Is this trend likely to continue? Probably. But drastically? Who knows?

Whatever the case, no one is going to stop celebrating Christmas because it has become more than just a religious practice. It would be devastating if Myer on Bourke Street, Melbourne, stopped their Christmas showcase because everyone decides that Christmas is no longer worth celebrating!

Just a final note about Santa Claus… This pie chart has been circulating around Facebook recently and I think it is hilarious and a great use of the Venn diagram…

And so, to everyone out there, whether you are Christian or not, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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Rebecca is from Singapore and is studying Marketing and Communications at Melbourne University. We call her ou...

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