In a column posted at NewsBusters on December 29, R. Emmett Tyrell Jr. relayed personal anecdotal evidence indicating that “This Christmas Season Was Different.” Based on his interactions and observations, Tyrell believes that 2016 marked a change in “the way we talk about what is a major holy day for the majority of the American people.” In his experience, people this year were far more inclined to wish friends, neighbors and even strangers “Merry Christmas” instead of falling back on the safe but unsatisfying “Happy Holidays.”
Tyrell may have his finger on the beginnings of a broader trend.
While my small affirmation of what Tyrell cited is limited to commerce and is nowhere near as positive, it’s still pretty compelling. Last year, in the eleventh year of conducting such exercises, I found that the relative mentions of “Christmas shopping season” compared to “holiday shopping season” in Google News searches fell to the lowest level ever. This year, relative “Christmas shopping season” mentions more than doubled from last year, reaching the highest level ever.
This is indeed the twelfth year of an effort begun in 2005. Each year has involved three sets of Google News searches on “Christmas shopping season” and “holiday shopping season” (both terms in quotes) done a few days before Christmas, two weeks earlier, and four weeks earlier.
Here’s the round-by-round rundown of this year’s searches:
- Round 1, done the Tuesday before Thanksgiving (as has been the case in most previous years), didn’t show a noteworthy change. In mentions of the shopping season, “holiday shopping season” dominated with 93 percent of the combined total of search results. The puny 7 percent showing for “Christmas shopping season” was barely above last year’s all-time Round 1 low of 5.7 percent, well below the average of the 10 preceding years, and miles below Year 1’s peak of over 15 percent.
- But Round 2, done this year on December 9, was a radical departure. “Christmas” made up 22 percent of the combined “shopping season” total. No other previous year’s Round 2 had more than 15.4 percent.
- Round 3’s result wasn’t as stellar, but its 15-plus percent of all combined “shopping season” results was still the second-highest ever, trailing only 2010.
In combining all the results, I found that “Christmas” made up a record 16.7 percent share of this year’s weighted average combined “shopping season” results:
Given how ingrained the documented urge in the media has been to avoid mentioning Christmas in connection with commerce, this is a pretty impressive one-year move in the opposite direction. One would expect the stubborn press to be far more reluctant to switch gears in the Christmas-recognizing direction. That would imply that the underlying trend towards mentioning Christmas is even stronger out in the real world.
This year’s improvement in relative “Christmas shopping season” mentions, though noteworthy, only takes things back to the woefully low averages of the previous decade:
Tyrell contends that “Christmas never should have become a celebration that all Americans could fail to acknowledge.” Indeed, as seen above, as recently as the 1970s, there was little reluctance to mention “Christmas,” at least in connection with commerce. But then the press began marginalizing “shopping season” references to “Christmas,” an effort clearly motivated by misguided political correctness which slowly gained ground in the 1980s, accelerated in the 1990s, and went over the cliff after the turn of the century.
In terms of more generic greetings, the overall public is evenly split. As in so many other matters, there’s a clear partisan divide:
Political divides now seen in ‘Merry Christmas’ vs. ‘Happy Holidays’
… A report issued Dec. 19 by the Public Religion Research Institute indicates that Democrats and Republicans differ even on what they want cash-register clerks to say in December.
Asked, “Do you think stores and businesses should greet their customers with ‘Happy Holidays’ or ‘Seasons Greetings’ instead of ‘Merry Christmas’ out of respect for people of different faiths, or not?” self-identified Democrats by a margin of more than 2 to 1, replied that they should. Republicans, by an even slightly stronger margin, said no, they should not.
The actual numbers were 66 percent-30 percent yes for the Democrats, and 67 percent-28 percent no for Republicans. Independents said no by a much narrower difference, 48 percent to 44 percent.
When all Americans are taken into account, the yeses have it by an eyelash, 47 percent to 46 percent …
… “Attitudes on this question are largely unchanged over the last six years,” said the report.
In terms of “shopping season” references, the press has predictably sided with the left, but less overwhelmingly so this year.
Tyrell posits that this year’s increased willingness to acknowledge Christmas in public and private interactions has a lot to with the fact that “we have a very different kind of family setting up shop at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.,” and cites Donald Trump’s specific reference to how he hopes every merchant will “be saying ‘Merry Christmas’ at every store.”
Perhaps that’s so, but I have a nagging feeling that many of the troops ordinarily engaged in the decades-long, well-documented “War on Christmas” were otherwise preoccupied with trying to delegitimize the President-Elect.
I guess we’ll see next year.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.
This post originally appeared on NewsBusters