Social scientists continue to unveil the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, including temporary or permanent unemployment, social isolation, and increased healthcare disparities. One of the most interesting effects of COVID-19, however, is increased political polarization. Brown University economist Jesse Shapiro finds that the American mass public is polarizing faster than citizens in any other democracy. This trend also extends to elected officials.
Considering the controversies brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, enjoying the holiday season is more vital today than ever. Unlike the COVID-19 pandemic, the holiday season time is becoming less controversial and more inclusive.
In a 2017 study by the Pew Research Center, 90 percent of Americans reported celebrating Christmas. By 2019, this figure increased to 93 percent. The role of religion in Christmas celebrations appears to be declining, with religious and non-religious individuals alike participating. In fact, an increasing majority of Americans report support for Christmas symbols sharing public space with Hanukkah symbols.
Moreover, society seems to be less polarized about the way that individuals greet each other during the holidays. In 2005, 43 percent of Americans preferred that others say, “Merry Christmas.” By 2017, that figure decreased to 32 percent. At the same time, the percent of individuals supporting the use of “Happy Holidays” increased.
While politics have become more polarized, the holidays have become less polarized. With individuals from all walks of life beginning to partake in the holiday season, the month of December is a time represents an opportunity for society to celebrate as a collective, especially following the trials presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Holiday celebrations might serve as a way to decrease political animosity and lead to a more optimistic 2022.
Alexandra Artiles is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Political Science at FSU. Her research interests include public policy, state politics, and federalism. You can learn more about Alexandra here.