For generations, the Nativity was the greatest story ever told. But today's children regard The Snowman by Raymond Briggs as their favourite tale for Christmas, a new survey shows.
In all regions bar the South-west, the Nativity is a poor loser to Briggs' animated creation and other tales such as A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.
NOP spoke to 1,000 children for Waterstone's bookstores to ask them what was their favourite Christmas story. The Snowman took nearly a quarter of the vote at 24 per cent with Dickens running a percentage point behind.
"The Night before Christmas", or "A Visit from St Nicholas" as Clement C Moore's magical poem about a mysterious Christmas Eve visitor is formally known, takes third place with 20 per cent of the vote, and Briggs makes his second appearance, in fourth place, with his story Father Christmas.
In a message that will be disappointing to churches, only 6 per cent of children aged seven to 16 named the Nativity as their favourite Christmas story.
A Church of England spokesman said: "This survey suggests that children see the Nativity as more than just a story, and that, like us, they find it unusual to group an event in with a selection of published titles."