The holidays might be over, but we should discuss how millennials face the Christmas season. If you haven't seen the "Hipster Nativity Set," you might want to take a minute and search for it on Google. It features wise men on Segways, an organic cow, Joseph taking a selfie of himself, Mary and the baby Jesus, and Mary holding a cup from Starbucks. For older people, it's a sad reflection on Christmas, but for millennials, it's actually more their reality. According to Pew Research, 90 percent of millennials take part in Christmas activities, but only about 40 percent do so because it's a religious holiday. For millennials, Christmas is a cultural holiday.
Millennials do not plan to attend Christmas Eve services at the same rates as baby boomers and the silent generation members, nor do millennials believe in the virgin birth as do their parents and grandparents. Most millennials put up a Christmas tree and more than 50 percent of them plan to send holiday or Christmas cards. Family is important to millennials, because they do plan to get together with friends and family and to buy presents for them.
Why Do Millennials See Christmas as Cultural?
It's hard to understand how millennials have come to view Christmas as a cultural holiday instead of religious, but here are some theories:
Consumerism is a big reason for the switch. When you think about how most people spend the holiday season, shopping most likely comes to mind first. Religion is rarely brought into the equation of holiday parties and visiting loved ones. It's not necessarily that millennials are more materialistic, it's just how they spend time in December. Millennials get into the holiday spirit through decorating the house, shopping and hosting parties rather than going to church. Again, religion is not at the forefront of the discussion. Christmas has also taken a place alongside secular holidays, such as Labor Day or Memorial Day. Christmas decorations go up as early as Labor Day in some stores, which also makes it less special. Millennials are twice as likely as the elderly to be alone on the holiday. Millennials often have jobs that do not allow them to take time off through the holidays. Christmas is a busy time, and if you have to work through Christmas Eve, there isn't time to travel home to enjoy the day with your family. Millennials also worry about the expense of Christmas. Almost half, 48 percent, of millennials are concerned about finances during the holidays. Millennials also experience more mental health issues during the season.
How Christmas Is Celebrated
Think about your own Christmas traditions. Do you remember how you celebrated Christmas as a child? Typically, the activities you participated in with your family are the ones you make up part of your celebration today. Sure, there are changes that have to be made. Maybe your family always went into the woods and cut down the Christmas tree. As an adult, if you live in an urban area, that might not be possible and you decide to get a fake tree to make your life easier. What do you think your children will do?
Did you take your children to Christmas Eve services when they were little? If you didn't, they may not understand the joy in singing Christmas carols in the church on the night before the holiday. If you focused on the tradition of Santa Claus, your kids will most likely carry on this tradition. Can we change how Christmas is celebrated in our families? Of course, but we can't expect change overnight. With Christmas, because it is a once-a-year event, it could take a few years to make new traditions. And if we don't start thinking about it ahead of time, we'll just repeat the same traditions each year.