If you tend to like any and all things celebrating the Christmas spirit, this study may be a bit of a downer. Apparently, Christmas displays reduce feelings of well-being and positive mood in people who don't celebrate the holiday. (I know, I know, if your first reaction is anything like mine, it's – they actually did a study on this?! Seriously?) But I kid you not, here's the abstract:
In two experiments we examined the differential psychological consequences of being in the presence of a Christmas display on participants who did or did not celebrate Christmas (Study 1), or who identified as Christian, Buddhist, or Sikh (Study 2). Participants completed measures of psychological well-being in a cubicle that either did or did not contain a small Christmas display. Across several indicators of well-being, the display harmed non-celebrators and non-Christians, but enhanced well-being for celebrators and Christians. In Study 2, we found that the negative effect of the display on non-Christians was mediated by reduced feelings of inclusion. The results raise concerns about the ubiquitous presence of dominant cultural symbols (such as Christmas displays) in culturally diverse societies.No, I don't think we need to go out and immediately eradicate all Christmas displays. But the study does challenge a few assumptions about the harmlessness of certain symbols in public spaces.
But, since Happy Holidays has a kind of empty ring to it, I'm still going to go ahead and say – all positive feelings and good cheer intended – Merry Christmas!