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Published: 2016-12-19

Christians less stressed than others during Christmas holidays

NEWS Christmas is meant to be a joyous celebration, but on the contrary, people are experiencing on average a decrease in life satisfaction and emotional well-being than at other times during the year. However, Christians, particularly those with a high degree of religiousness, are an exception to this pattern.

These conclusions are according to a recent study based on a large scale, cross-sectional data set from 11 European countries in which Umeå University participated.

“The reduced well-being can be partly explained by all the must-haves of Christmas, as well as the time pressure and financial stress it creates. Christian religious groups seem to clearly better balance desires against the real message of Christmas,” says Filip Fors from the Department of Sociology at Umeå University.

The results show that respondents experience significantly reduced subjective well-being, on average, before and around Christmas. For Christians, the decline is much smaller. Christian groups that are highl degree of relgiousness deviate from the statistical pattern and experience even a small increase in satisfaction with life around Christmas time.

“This can be a wake-up call during the Christmas season. Whether you are religious or not, it is good for everyone to reflect on their celebration and try to find other values ​​than just the material ones. But needless to say, the quest for an inner satisfaction should not in itself be just another must,” explains Filip Fors.

However, most will recover in due course from the decline when Christmas is over. Statistics show that in the aftermath of Christmas, respondents report a level of life satisfaction comparable to the annual mean. This suggests that it is the stress of “Christmas time” rather than Christmas itself behind the decline before and during Christmas.

The research study about Christmas well-being is based on approximately 500 interviews from eleven European countries, including Sweden, by the European Social Survey(ESS). Umeå University was responsible for the Swedish collection of data. The study was performed at the University of Göttingen in Germany. The statistics cannot be broken down by nationality.

For more infomation, please contact:

Filip ForsResearch Coordinator, Department of Sociology, Umeå UniversityPhone: +46 90-786 78 25Mobile: +46 70 263 45 10

Press photo of Filip Fors, free to publishTo the research article “Christmas and Subjective Well-Being: a Research Note”

Editor: David Meyers