Christmas period may reduce quality of life for many Europeans

December 1, 2015, Springer

Many Europeans do not experience the run-up to Christmas as a particularly jolly time, and often feel despondent and stressed, reports a new study published in the Springer journal Applied Research in Quality of Life. However, the study suggests Christians, particularly those who are very religious, are the exception to this pattern.

In a study on Christmas and subjective well-being (SWB), Michael Mutz of Georg-August-Universität Göttingen in Germany analysed large-scale data from the European Social Survey (ESS) for eleven historically Christian European countries: Belgium, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. In the two ESS rounds Mutz used, the SWB of was measured by asking how satisfied they were with their lives and how they would rate their emotional state. The author then compared the data for respondents questioned in the pre-Christmas (16-26 Dec.) and post-Christmas (27-31 Dec.) periods to those questioned at other times of the year (excluding July and August).

In general, respondents interviewed around Christmas showed significantly less satisfaction with their lives and experienced more negative emotions than those surveyed at other times of the year. However, this was not the case among very religious Christians, who responded that they felt more positive and content with life during the run-up to Christmas than other respondents. Furthermore, people with higher levels of education or children at home also tended to take the holiday period more in their stride.

According to Mutz, the results of the study do not show that Christians are completely immune to the effects the Christmas period has on people's emotions, they just seem to be less affected than non-religious people. He notes this appears to hold true for all Christians, regardless of how religious they rate themselves.

Mutz suggests the lower levels of life satisfaction and emotional well-being observed may come as a result of the stresses involved in the pre-Christmas period—such as buying presents in time and fulfilling social obligations—and a growing material consumer culture, with its related financial concerns, surrounding the festive period: "People with Christian affiliation and a strong sense of religiousness celebrate Christmas differently than the majority of non-Christians. It can be assumed that these individuals are less prone to becoming absorbed by the consumerism that precedes the holidays," says Mutz. "Christian religious affiliation is a protective factor against the general decline of subjective well-being around Christmas."

Explore further: Stress before and at Christmas tends to be positive for most people

More information: Michael Mutz. Christmas and Subjective Well-Being: a Research Note, Applied Research in Quality of Life (2015). DOI: 10.1007/s11482-015-9441-8

Related Stories

Are Christians becoming more 'green'?

July 24, 2013

Despite the wide-held perception that Christians have become more concerned about the environment, new research finds this so-called "greening of Christianity" is not evident among the religious rank-and-file.

Recommended for you

Growing a dinosaur's dinner

July 13, 2018

Scientists have measured the nutritional value of herbivore dinosaurs' diet by growing their food in atmospheric conditions similar to those found roughly 150 million years ago.

A statistical study of the hot streak

July 12, 2018

An international team of researchers has conducted a statistical analysis of hot streaks to learn more about this mysterious facet of human nature. In their paper published in the journal Nature, the group describes how they ...

Study finds solos twice as common in sad songs

July 11, 2018

Music can transport a spirit from sullen to joyful. It can bring a concertgoer to unexpected tears. But the details of just how that connection between performance and emotion works remain largely mysterious.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.