Barna Survey Probes Holiday Behavior

NEW YORK A survey by The Barna Group detects what’s likely an underserved market for Christmas carols: 34 percent of the poll’s agnostics and atheists acknowledged listening to carols at home during the holiday season. Granted, that’s lower than the 59 percent of all respondents who said they listen to carols, but 34 percent is nothing to sneeze at.

The polling (conducted last month) documented a number of ways in which people behave differently during the holidays than they do at other times.

A surprisingly small number of respondents, 7 percent, said they drink more alcoholic beverages this time of year. Lest you imagine that Christmas carols drive people to drink, a couple bits of data indicate otherwise: Respondents in the 18-25 age bracket have a below-average incidence of listening to carols but an above-average incidence of drinking more during the holidays.

There’s also a seasonal surge in attendance at religious services, thanks in part to what Barna refers to as CEOs — meaning “Christmas and Easter Only attenders.”

In all, 20 percent of respondents said they expect to attend religious services more often during the Christmas season than they normally do. Among those who usually don’t darken the door of a house of worship, 4 percent said they’d definitely attend services this time of year, and another 13 percent said they might do so.