Proof That There's No "War on Christmas"

November 8th 2015

Thor Benson

"Well, it's only October, but the 'War on Christmas' is already in full swing," a Fox News anchor said last month. But if you look at the numbers—both polling and spending—there is no war on Christmas.

Christmas decorations at a store


Only 28 percent of respondents in a 2013 Fairleigh Dickinson University poll thought there was some kind of "War on Christmas."

So where does the idea of a "War on Christmas" come from? Fox anchor Bill O'Reilly and other people who believe in the "War on Christmas" point to people saying "Happy Holidays" in stores or elsewhere instead of "Merry Christmas" as evidence. But, according to a Pew poll from 2013, almost half of Americans don't care which is said. And that includes many Christians.

What about religious displays on public land? Nearly half of Americans surveyed in a Pew poll last year said Christmas symbols should be allowed on government property. But that poll also found that 28 percent of respondents thought Christmas symbols should be allowed only if holiday symbols from other religions are also present.

The U.S. Supreme Court has never ruled it unconstitutional to put religious holiday decorations on government property. Having holiday decorations on government land may not be illegal, but it's not popular with some people, according to that Pew poll. It is also important to note that nearly one-third of Americans are not Christian, and those numbers are growing. In any case, people are free to put up Christmas decorations on their own property.

Christmas and Hanukkah

The economy?

There's ample evidence that Christmas is as healthy as ever. Take Christmas spending: most retail stores that sell holiday-specific items focus on Christmas items, and it makes them a lot of money.

Christmas spending hit a high in 2007, according to Gallup, with people spending an average of $909 on Christmas gifts for the year. That number obviously went down during the recession, and Christmas spending reached its lowest point in 2011, when people on average spent $712 on Christmas. Since the economy began recovering, Christmas spending is expected to rise again, to an average of $812 in 2015.

Retail sales for Christmas in 2015 are supposed to break $1 trillion for the first time, up from 2014's $960 billion, according to some experts. The Christmas tree industry by itself is worth over $1 billion. Online shopping is becoming more popular every year, and almost half of Christmas shopping will be done online.

Christmas also creates a lot of temporary jobs. Amazon is expected to add 100,000 jobs for 2015's Christmas season, though many will likely end when the season is over. Companies like UPS and FedEx often hire extra drivers and retail employees during the Christmas season.

A 2013 opinion article published in the Guardian argued that the "War on Christmas" was actually coming from corporate America, since Christmas remains a potent marketing opportunity to boost profits.

"The real attack is not being waged by offended nonbelievers or the incessant meddling of politically correct busybodies," JP Sottile wrote. "The real war on the spirit and meaning of Christmas is being waged by corporate profiteers through a grinding campaign of multimedia marketing." After all, Christmas is supposed to be about family and helping others.

It's not just retail that benefits financially from Christmas. Hotwire's 2014 survey on holiday travel found that Americans spent $66 billion getting to their Christmas destinations. All holiday travel for that year totaled $83 billion. There's a lot of money in Christmas, and it doesn't appear to be going out of style.

A recent Chicago Tribune article poked fun at the idea of a "War on Christmas." "Walk into a Home Depot, and you'll notice there are only two full aisles dedicated to Christmas decorations," Rex Huppke wrote. "It should be ALL of the aisles, because what home improvement materials could anyone possibly need this time of year other than Christmas lights, Christmas trees, Christmas-scented aerosol sprays and giant metal statues of reindeer?"

To recap: Christmas dominates November and December, and it's widely accepted and celebrated. There are no laws banning people from putting Christmas decorations on their lawns or from celebrating Christmas or from talking about Christmas with friends or from selling Christmas items. So much for the "War on Christmas."