Simon FraserUniversity, examining how Christmas displays effect people’s well-being, was recently published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology . The study based on an honors thesis was conducted by Michael Schmitt, Kelly Davies, Mandy Hung, and Stephen Wright.
In the first of two experiments, students were first divided into two groups—those who said they celebrated a Christmas and those who did not. The students were then asked to complete questionnaires about their mood and sense of well-being. The students were then randomly assigned to completed the task in either study cubicles, which had a small Christmas tree on the desk or those that did not. When the Christmas tree was present, students who celebrated Christmas reported more self-assurance and joviality and generally a more positive mood than students who did not celebrate Christmas. The non-celebrating students consistently reported a less positive mood in the cubicle with Christmas tree.
A second experiment studied the same effects among three different religious groups; Christians, Sikhs and Buddhists. All the groups said they expected that the display would enhance good feeling. The results, however, indicated that while Christians reported a greater sense of self-esteem and well-being when the tree was present, for non-Christians, the results were negative.
The study indicated that Christians and those who celebrated Christmas are positive influenced by Christmas decorations in terms of mood and sense of well being. For non-Christians and people who do not celebrate Christmas, the decorations threaten their sense of self, depress their mood, and engendered feelings of alienation and exclusion.
In conclusion, the authors wrote, “The results raise concerns about the ubiquitous presence of dominant cultural symbols (such as Christmas displays) in culturally diverse societies.”
In 2005 writer, attorney, actor and former Nixon speech writer, Ben Stein delivered a commentary on Christmas observances. In it he says, “I’m a Jew and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish, And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees, Christmas trees. Stein categorically denies feeling threatened or discriminated against by Christian displays. He says, “I don’t like being pushed around fro being a Jews and I don’t think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christian.”