family in Christmas kitchen

A look at two Christmas related research findings published 46 years apart, and accessed from the Archive, finds similarities but also interesting changes in tone.

An NOP bulletin poll from 1969 stated that “Most people enjoy Christmas – only 13% said they did not enjoy it”. A further breakdown of these figures brings intuitive conclusions. 90% of those with children enjoyed Christmas compared to 82% without. 19% of over 65s did not enjoy Christmas compared to 8% for those between 21 and 34. Most interestingly, it found that men enjoyed Christmas more than women and attributed this to the fact that “perhaps sweating over the stove is not enjoyed by women”. 

The idea that Christmas may bring additional problems on top of those endured by an overworked cook has been quantified in Australia’s annual Christmas Stress Index (CSI). Created in 2012 in response of the idea that Christmas was “not how it used to be”, it contains eight statements regarding attitudes to the Christmas season. An article from Research News Australia on their 2015 survey pointed out that Australians were placed in the “high stress category” overall, as they had been for the previous three years. Similarly to the NOP piece in 1969, it observes that there are higher stress levels for women. However the explanation for this is perhaps more complimentary: “females play an integral role in planning and organising Christmas Day festivities”. This planning and organising is potentially made more difficult due to time pressures and financial difficulties. 45% of respondents in the CSI survey agreed with the statement: “I am worried about the expense of Christmas”.

The NOP bulletin concluded that “The traditions of Christmas are well supported by the public. What is not is the commercial invasion”. This need not ruin things if we can remember that Christmas is about family and friends. However the same Bulletin pointed out that over 15% of those over 65 would be alone at Christmas. The current debate over “cancelling Christmas” would mean little to this demographic or their contemporary equivalents. Furthermore, perhaps the idea of an “invasion”, mentioned in the NOP bulletin, is represented in the modern view of Christmas. The CSI piece argues that many people see “Christmas as just another thing we have to do, adding an external layer of responsibility, commitment and work to our already very busy lives.” Happy Christmas Indeed!


• NOP Political Bulletin, Special Supplement I, 1969.
• (Australian) Research News vol 32, no.11, December 2015: ‘ Ahhhh Christmas is coming’.

Contributed by Jacob Bartram (BVA-BDRC)
Date posted: 20th December 2020


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