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Merry Christmas... or not

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This is the season of the year when a certain segment of the media/blogosphere starts worrying about what they call the "War on Christmas." The complaints center on instances in which creche scenes are removed from public spaces (in keeping with the First Amendment), and especially when stores and merchants wish their customers "Happy Holidays" in place of "Merry Christmas."

In a poll recently released by the Public Religion Research Institute, nearly half of those surveyed (49%) thought that "Happy Holidays" was a preferable greeting in those situations, being more respectful of people who have other religious traditions. This percentage was up from 44% in 2010. It's still close, though, as 43% of those questioned still supported "Merry Christmas."

Interestingly, the split falls across political and age lines even more than religious. 61% of Republicans support "Merry Christmas," while 58% of Democrats go with "Happy Holidays." 66% of young people (18-29) support the more inclusive greeting, compared to on 39% of those 65 and older.

More than one-quarter of the people in the survey indicated that they did not celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday. They were more likely to watch a Christmas movie like "It's a Wonderful Life" or read "the Night Before Christmas" than to attend a religious service or to read the Christmas story from the Bible.

Read more about the study and other findings at PRRI.

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