By Aaron Earls
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, but some may want to go back to Thanksgiving.
According to the most recent YouGov tracking poll, Thanksgiving has overtaken Christmas as the most beloved holiday in the United States.Thanksgiving has overtaken Christmas as the most beloved holiday in the United States, according to @YouGovAmerica's tracking poll. Click To Tweet
While 97% of Americans say they have heard of Thanksgiving and Christmas, more Americans have a favorable opinion toward Thanksgiving. The traditional November holiday is liked by 81% of Americans, with 5% saying they dislike it and 11% saying they’re neutral to it. Meanwhile, slightly fewer Americans say they like Christmas (77%), while slightly more say they dislike it (6%) or are neutral to it (13%).
Older Americans are more likely to say they enjoy both Christmas and Thanksgiving. Almost 9 in 10 Baby Boomers (88%) say they like Thanksgiving, and 82% have Christmas cheer. Among Gen Xers, 82% are fans of Thanksgiving and 77% enjoy Christmas. Millennials are the least likely to say they like Thanksgiving (74%) and Christmas (72%), but they have the least separation between the percentage who enjoy the two holidays.
Men and women are statistically even regarding how much they enjoy Christmas and Thanksgiving. On a day often marked by food and football, 82% of men are fans of Thanksgiving. And 76% of men say they enjoy Christmas. For women, 81% like Thanksgiving, and 78% appreciate Christmas.
Overall, the most popular holidays are Thanksgiving (81%), Christmas (77%), Memorial Day (76%), Mother’s Day (75%), Veteran’s Day (74%), Martin Luther King Jr. Day (71%), Labor Day (70%), Father’s Day (70%), New Year’s Eve (66%), and Halloween (65%).The most popular holidays according to @YouGovAmerica are: Thanksgiving 81%, Christmas 77%, Memorial Day 76%, Mother’s Day 75%, Veteran’s Day 74%, MLK Day 71%, Labor Day 70%, Father’s Day 70%, New Year’s Eve 66% & Halloween 65%. Click To Tweet
Other religious holidays or days with religious roots in the top 40 include Easter (65%), Saint Patrick’s Day (59%), Valentine’s Day (54%), Hanukkah (51%), Ramadan (29%), and Eid al-Adha (15%).
For Millennials, Martin Luther King Jr. Day (76%) tops Thanksgiving (74%), Christmas (72%), Mother’s Day (72%), and Halloween (69%). Gen X enjoys Thanksgiving (82%), Veterans Day (79%), Christmas (77%), Memorial Day (74%), and Mother’s Day (73%). Baby Boomers are biggest fans of Thanksgiving (88%), Veterans Day (86%), Memorial Day (85%), Christmas (82%), and Mother’s Day (80%).
Many of these holidays match the highest attendance Sundays for churches. A 2012 Lifeway Research study found pastors are most likely to say Easter (93%), Christmas (84%), and Mother’s Day (59%) are one of their three most attended services each year.
Each of these days, along with some of the other holidays, offer unique opportunities to reach the unchurched and dechurched in your community. Those with no history or connection to church may love participating in a food bank or offering meals to the homeless around Thanksgiving or a day to serve the local school. People who grew up in church but have since become disconnected could appreciate an invitation to a special Christmas Eve or Mother’s Day service.Pastors are most likely to say Easter (93%), Christmas (84%), and Mother’s Day (59%) are one of their three highest attendance Sundays of the year, according to @LifewayResearch. Click To Tweet
Church leaders should be aware, however, that different people have different feelings toward each of the holidays, as the YouGov poll demonstrates. There is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and churches should work to learn their communities and what will best draw them not only to the congregation but more importantly to the gospel.
Aaron is the senior writer at Lifeway Research.