How many in Australia will celebrate Christmas?

Rebecca - The Student

Rebecca is from Singapore and is studying Marketing and Communications at Melbourne University. We call her our 'young person' and she's working with us part time to help us negotiate the world of social media and online communications, and in return she's discovering the joy of stats!

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4 Responses

  1. Glenn says:

    Great article Rebecca – believe it or not, if you’ve had a tree, presents, meal with family, you’ve celebrated Christmas, whether you’re religious or not!

    Christmas isn’t and never has been purely a Christian celebration. It originated with the Roman festival of Saturnalia which happened over the winter solstice, and this was taken over by the early Christians to celebrate Christ’s birth (it’s unknown if Christ even existed as a single historical individual or if he did, when he was actually born).

    You’ll notice that a lot of the imagery associated with Christmas (evergreen trees, snow, Santa, reindeer, twinkly stars etc.) is winter imagery from Northern Europe, not religious in nature. It comes from the fact that Christmas was a festival of midwinter long before it was a Christian celebration. Of course in Australia this is also very incongruous because Christmas is in summer, not necessarily the hottest part of the year (February), but near the longest day of the year. We put Christmas lights up to banish the night, but (in southern Australia) have to wait until 10pm for it to get dark enough to appreciate them!
    And Christmas these days is largely a secular celebration. Some might say it’s the “festival of over-consumption”. You’ll find that a lot of those 12.6 million Christians have put down the religion of their birth, and don’t actually celebrate Christmas in a religious way – I suspect our Churches couldn’t actually fit 12.6 million people if they all decided to observe on the one day!
    It’s actually an issue with the religion question on Census – there have been many suggestions on expanding the question to include “level of observance” – ie. do you attend church services regularly or on special occasions etc. but this hasn’t got through the Census decision making process yet (see http://blog2.id.com.au/2011/2011-census/decides-on-the-census/).

    Add to that all the people like yourself who are nominally of other religions (and the non-religious) but celebrate a secular Christmas and you’ll probably find that the number of people doing this far outweighs those doing it based on their religious observance!

  2. margo says:

    Rebecca, I realy enjoyed the Venn diagram

  3. Deb says:

    interesting and thought provoking article as I have been wondering who still cares about Christmas as anything other than an annual economic stimulant. As regards the religion stats, where does Judaism fit in the picture? I would have thought there would be at least as many people of Jewish faith as there are Baptists or Buddhists and was surpirsed that they didn’t rate a mention.

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