The British are filled with festive good cheerby Peter Kellner / December 11, 2014 / Leave a comment
Published in January 2015 issue of Prospect Magazine
Sitting down at home, the lights on an artificial tree twinkling in the corner of the room, about to eat turkey with five family members, and dreaming that Boris Johnson might drop by—that is the quintessential English Christmas, 2014. (Scots are different: they would far prefer Alex Salmond.)
This month’s YouGov/Prospect survey shines a light on our families, friendships and food in the festive season. What emerges is a mixture of tradition and change. Eight out of 10 of us will have Christmas trees in our homes, but the overwhelming majority of these are artificial. Non-religious people—almost half the public—are almost as likely to have trees as Christians who attend church at least from time to time. Only members of other faiths buck the trend—and even among them, almost half will have a Christmas tree.
Our eating habits are remarkably constant. In 1952 Gallup found that 69 per cent were eating turkey or chicken for their main Christmas meal. Sixty-three years later the figure is almost identical: 67 per cent. Gallup didn’t ask separately about chicken and turkey, so the mix may have changed. But the preference of fowl over red meat on Christmas Day remains virtually unchanged.