ST. LEO, FL – While most Americans say they will celebrate Christmas in 2017, the holiday still brings its share of angst, according to a new survey released by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute (

The poll, conducted online November 19-24, 2017, sampled 1,000 adults nationwide. A large majority of Americans surveyed, 85.2 percent, say they plan to celebrate Christmas this year. Nearly two-thirds of those observing the season, 62 percent, agreed (strongly or somewhat) with the statement: “I enjoy Christmas but am usually glad when it is over.”

But not all was gloomy. Among 14 holidays measured, Christmas was viewed as the favorite by 33.6 percent of poll respondents.  Christmas was followed by Thanksgiving (14.6 percent), Fourth of July, (9 percent), New Year’s Eve/Day (8.4 percent), and Halloween (7.6 percent).

Most responding to the poll say their favorite holiday tradition is seeing family/family gatherings, cited by 75.2 percent, while giving presents comes in second at 64.7 percent. Those participating in the poll were allowed to give multiple answers as to their favorites. Rounding out the top five favorite traditions for Saint Leo University poll respondents are listening to Christmas music (54.1 percent); decorating the Christmas tree (48.1 percent); and opening presents (44.7 percent).

Those respondents also revealed what they consider the perfect age for children to learn about Santa Claus. An average of the responses indicates the average age to be told about the jolly old elf should be 8.95 years.

On the flip side, the most annoying tradition is the commercialization of the season, 42.4 percent of poll respondents say. Multiple responses were accepted for this question, too. The Saint Leo University Polling Institute survey shows the early start of the Christmas season coming in second as most annoying to Americans (38.3 percent); with other annoying traditions being the annual holiday “brag” letter (33.3 percent); the expense/cost of the season (32.3 percent); and the anxiety the season produces (26.3 percent).

Holiday Stress
As for the angst, by a two-to-one margin—31.7 percent to 15.5 percent—those taking the poll report more holiday anxiety rather than less holiday anxiety. Just one-half (50.4 percent) say they feel no change in their anxiety levels at this time of year.

“Over one-third of respondents indicated that they experience more anxiety during this period of time,” said Dr. Christopher Wolfe, assistant professor of psychology at Saint Leo University. “Interestingly, more women responded experiencing anxiety during the Christmas season than men [37.5 percent of females and 25.7 percent of males].  When asked if the respondent was likely to fake or pretend to be happy during the holidays, a little over one-third endorsed ‘painting on a smile.’ While no large differences existed between the sexes on faking it, the majority of the sample endorsed being glad when the season was over [62 percent].”

The poll shows 59.4 percent say they seldom or never pretend to be happy during the holiday season, while 39.1 percent say they often or sometimes do so.

Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays
President Donald Trump said he would bring “Merry Christmas” back to the White House, resulting in online memes and discussions about previous administrations’ holiday greetings. The most recent Saint Leo University Polling Institute survey shows that among those who celebrate Christmas, the favorite greeting indeed is “Merry Christmas” with 72.3 percent preferring the salutation.

Which One Greeting is Your Favorite? National %
Merry Christmas 72.3
Happy Holidays 20.5
Season’s Greetings   3.6
None of these 1.1
Other 0.7
Unsure 1.8

All respondents—including those who do not celebrate Christmas—were asked if they found holiday greetings they received as very offensive, somewhat offensive, somewhat welcomed, or very welcomed.  Results are shown in the following table.  A large majority, 81.9 percent, suggest holiday greetings were either somewhat (14.9 percent) or very (67 percent) welcomed.

Views on Holiday Greetings Received National %
Very offensive 3.3
Somewhat offensive 2.5
Total:  Very and Somewhat offensive 5.8
Somewhat welcomed 14.9
Very welcomed 67.0
Total:  Somewhat and Very welcomed 81.9

For a look at the 2016 favorite Christmas movies/TV shows, go to: Favorite Christmas shows, movies
For a look at the 2016 favorite Christmas tunes, go to: Favorite Christmas tunes

About the poll
METHODOLOGY: The poll sampled opinions of 1,000 adult approximately proportional to state population contribution nationwide. The survey was conducted November 19 through November 24, 2017. All surveys were conducted using an online survey instrument. The poll has a +/- 3.0 percent margin of error at a 95 percent confidence level on a composite basis.

Florida results were acquired by surveying a separate population of 500 respondents in the state. For these answers, poll has a +/- 4.5 percent margin of error at a 95 percent confidence level on a composite basis.


About Saint Leo University
Saint Leo University ( is a modern Catholic teaching university that is firmly grounded in the liberal arts tradition and the timeless Benedictine wisdom that seeks balanced growth of mind, body, and spirit. The Saint Leo University of today is a private, nonprofit institution that creates hospitable learning communities wherever students want to be or need to be, whether that is a campus classroom, a web-based environment, an employer’s worksite, a military base, or an office park. Saint Leo welcomes people of all faiths and of no religious affiliation, and encourages learners of all generations. The university is committed to providing educational opportunities to the nation’s armed forces, veterans, and their families. Saint Leo is regionally accredited to award degrees ranging from the associate to the doctorate, and the faculty and staff guide all students to develop their capacities for critical thinking, moral reflection, and lifelong learning and leadership.

The university remains the faithful steward of the beautiful lakeside University Campus in the Tampa Bay region of Florida, where its founding monks created the first Catholic college in the state in 1889. Serving more than 13,000 students, Saint Leo has expanded to downtown Tampa, to other sites in Florida and beyond, and maintains a physical presence in seven states. The university provides highly respected online learning programs to students nationally and internationally. More than 90,000 alumni reside in all 50 states, in Washington, DC, in three U.S. territories, and in 76 countries.


Media contacts:
Mary McCoy, Saint Leo University, University Communications or (352) 588-7118 or (813) 610-8416 (cell/text).
Jo-Ann Johnston, Saint Leo University, University Communications or (352) 588-8237 or (352) 467-0843 (cell/text).