Spirit of Christmas past its best

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The Independent Online
Christmas begins too early, costs too much, has become too commercialised and leads to too many arguments, according to a survey published yesterday. It has also lost most of its original meaning, writes David Nicholson-Lord.

Nearly four-fifths of people in the Gallup poll said Christmas had been spoilt by over-commercialisation. Nearly 3 out of 10 said said that retailers cheapened the message of Christmas, using it just as a promotion and a way of making money.

Another 58 per cent thought the Christmas shopping season begins too early, while 44 per cent said children expected too many presents.

Despite the resentment, however, 22 per cent of those questioned said they intended to spend more this Christmas on food and gifts, with 8 per cent planning to go into debt to finance their spending. Twenty-five per cent said they would be spending less.

Although nearly three-quarters said Christmas was a time to spend with the family, over a quarter said it accentuated family tensions. Fifteen per cent were not looking forward to it at all.

The survey - conducted for the business information firm Key Note - found that 26 per cent of the 1,000 people polled would be going to church over Christmas.

According to consumer psychology research with 600 adults for Barclay Life insurance, the recession has led to a reassertion of "spiritual" values.

The Barclay survey found that commercialism was the most hated feature of Christrmas, cited by 69 per cent. However, the proportion who thought it was "primarily a religious festival" had doubled, from 5 to 10 per cent.

More people are stressing religious rather than the purely family aspects, the research found. There was "disillusionment with its commercialisation" and a return to "more traditional and stable values".