A survey of over 2,000 Britons reveals a myriad of false assumptions surrounding Christmas, including Santa Claus’ presence in the Biblical account of Jesus’ birth.
According to the poll, 12 per cent of Londoners think the Bible features Father Christmas, while 60 per cent believe the same is true of Mary riding a donkey.
A whopping 84 per cent of the public believes that three kings visited Jesus, despite the Gospels only mentioning “wise men from the East”.
Polling company ComRes listed traditional Christmas elements including a crying baby Jesus and an official birth date, asking the public whether each featured in the Bible.
Over a quarter of Britain’s youth – aged 18 to 24 – believe that Jesus never cried as a baby, an answer most likely inspired by the lyrics of ‘Away In A Manger’.
A significant proportion of the public also think Jesus was born on 25 December, although the Gospels do not mention a specific date of birth.
Unsurprisingly perhaps, it is the older generation who fare better in their knowledge of the biblical Christmas story, given that almost half of those over 65 said they were taught “a lot” about the bible, while only 21 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds said the same.
Seven per cent of the public think Christmas trees – introduced in Britain’s Victorian era – are in the Bible, a proportion which nearly doubles among 18 to 35-year-olds.
Unlocking the scale of inaccurate assumptions surrounding Christmas may lie with the standard of religions education. Two thirds of the public said they were taught little or nothing about the bible or received no RE at all.
Colin Hart, Director of the Christian Institute, said: “This poll shows a worrying lack of knowledge about our country’s Christian heritage that has shaped our history, institutions and laws, even who we are and our values.
“In many cases Christianity has been marginalized from our schools.
“It’s not just about giving it more space on the timetable. It’s also about the way it’s taught”.
Knowledge of Christmas also varied with private and public sector employees.
Public sector workers, including teachers and social workers, were more ignorant than their private sector counterparts about whether the Christmas tree featured in the Bible.
One in ten public sector workers also thought Santa Claus made an appearance for Jesus’ birth.