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Chris Queen

Hating Christmas

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Posted on December 25 2010 6:00 am
Chris Queen hails from Covington, GA. Check out his blog, Random Thoughts From The Revolution, and follow him on Twitter.

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7. Christmas Trees Depress Me Almost As Much As Taking Surveys Does.

Now we’ll travel north of the border to see what passes as scientific study these days. A Canadian university conducted a study, apparently to determine how people who don’t celebrate Christmas feel when they take surveys about their mood when there’s a miniature Christmas tree in the room. A story on LiveScience.com carries the headline: Christmas Trees Are Surprisingly Depressing for Some:

When people who did not celebrate Christmas or who did not identify as Christian filled out surveys about their moods while in the same room as a small Christmas tree, they reported less self-assurance and fewer positive feelings than if they hadn’t been reminded of the holiday, according to a new study.

The university students didn’t know the study was about Christmas, said study researcher Michael Schmitt, a social psychologist at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada. Nonetheless, he said, the presence of the tree caused non-celebrators and non-Christians to feel subtly excluded.

“Simply having this 12-inch Christmas tree in the room with them made them feel less included in the university as a whole, which to me is a pretty powerful effect from one 12-inch Christmas tree in one psychology lab,” Schmitt told LiveScience.

This is a baffling study. Schmitt and his team administered surveys about mood to groups of Christians, Sikhs, and Buddhists, and the subjects were interviewed in a room either with or without a Christmas tree. In nearly every case, the non-Christians felt “less self-assurance” with a Christmas tree in the room, but (get this) the Christians felt “more guilt when they were in the Christmas room.”

Oddly enough, after the interviews, the subjects were told of the purpose of the experiment, and even the non-celebrators of Christmas said that they believe that Christmas decorations make them happier.

In case you’re starting to wonder what to do with your Christmas decorations, just to get rid of that Christian guilt or non-Christian lack of self-assurance, don’t worry. Schmitt has some suggestions for us:

Schmitt emphasizes that he’s not interested in being the Grinch who stole Christmas. Still, he said, the majority should take a closer look at how its symbols affect minorities.

“I don’t think it’s really going to undermine anyone’s experience of Christmas to tone it down,” he said. “We’re not suggesting ‘no Christmas’ or ‘no Christmas displays at all,’ but in contexts where we really do value respecting and including diversity in terms of religion, the safest option is not to have these kinds of displays.”

Another option is to include other religious traditions in holiday displays, Schmitt said. The researchers didn’t investigate the effect of minority religious symbols on people in the majority; however, they wrote, previous research suggests that because these symbols are less frequent and less symbolic of the culture at large, the effect should be minimal.

Ummm…gee thanks. What we really need this Christmas is for some academic to tell us how to decorate.

Next: What is it with banks and Christmas trees this year?

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