Jesus disappearing from Christmas as Santa takes over

Reuters

Four in 10 Brits do not know that Jesus is a part of the Christmas story, a new poll has found.

The survey of 2,000 British adults found that many are clueless when it comes to other major figures from the birth of Jesus as well, with 37 per cent saying they did not know that Mary and Joseph were a part of the story.

Half (49 per cent) had no idea about the angel Gabriel's involvement yet six per cent thought Santa would make an appearance, according to the research for Hotels.com by OnePoll.

Asked what they thought the nativity story would look like if it were to happen today, one in 10 said they thought a unicorn would replace the donkey, 15 per cent said the three queens would replace the three kings - or Magi - and 10 per cent said Gabriel would appear to Mary via Instagram.

The gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh would also be replaced with an iPhone (22 per cent), a Netflix subscription (18 per cent) and rose gold jewellery (16 per cent).

A survey last year found that one in five Brits did not know Jesus was born on Christmas Day and that one in 20 thought his birth was actually marked by Easter.

Other research has found that religious images and messages have all but disappeared from Christmas cards in favour of 'festive' images of Santa, snowmen and reindeer.

As Brits become increasingly unaware of the Christian origins of Christmas, despite it being the biggest holiday of the year, Jesus is also disappearing from retailers and shopping centres as they opt for Santa's Grottos instead.

Research by the Scottish Catholic Observer has found that only four shopping centres out of 26 that it contacted across Scotland have a nativity scene this year.

They are Clyde Shopping Centre, EK East Kilbride, Kingdom Centre Glenrothes and Eastgate Centre Inverness.  None that the newspaper contacted in the capital of Edinburgh planned to display one.

Some of the centres that without a nativity told the newspaper they had a Santa's Grotto or 'Christmas scene' instead.

The newspaper carried out the survey after the Thistles shopping centre in Stirling, central Scotland, made headlines for refusing to display a nativity crib despite an appeal by local MP Stephen Kerr and complaints from Christians.

Thistles was accused of double standards after it said that it would not display a crib because it was 'religiously and politically neutral', while at the same time hosting a Christmas market.

The shopping centre lifted the ban this week after The Scottish Sun newspaper got behind the campaign and sent two actors to the shopping centre to perform a live nativity.  The newspaper said shoppers 'loved' it.

The shopping centre has now agreed to display a Christian nativity scene for one day only this Sunday.

The u-turn was praised by the Scottish Catholic Church, which previously accused Thistles of being 'Grinch-like'. 

'The management of the Thistles Centre, along with owners Standard Life Investments, are to be commended and congratulated for listening to the general public and responding with such generosity and inclusivity,' it said.

'They have recognised that contemporary Scotland should be a place that both respects and upholds religious liberty in the public square.'

Lifestyle