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World News

Census sparks debate about popularity of Christmas as diversity group argue other religious holidays should be equally marked

by Premier Journalist

Recently released census results suggest less than half of the English and Welsh population are Christian.

It's the first time the number has dropped below 50 per cent, surprising sociologists and church leaders. 

However, minority religions have seen a surge. 

The statistics have prompted conversations regarding the UK's Christian traditions - particularly in regard to Christmas. 

Reflecting on the data, a diversity and inclusivity consultancy has suggested society should put less emphasis on Christmas, and pay more attention to other religious holidays. 

Allegra Chapman, Co-creater of Watch This Sp_Ce, said: "It's a really good opportunity, I think, for us to reflect on the number of different faiths, or lack of faith, or different spiritual practices that there are in this country, and how we can make sure that everybody feels included and comfortable within our celebrations, and that everybody's celebrations are respected and valued. 

"We obviously have a very strong tradition of celebrating Christmas in this country, and it being a very big focal point of the winter season. 

"It's great to, you know, honour and value and respect those people who do celebrate Christmas as a religious festival, but we also want that same value and respect for everybody for whom it isn't an important festival, and he might be celebrating something different at various points during the year."

Self-proclaimed Christmas expert and Christian, James Cooper - who created the website Why Christmas - isn't concerned.

Despite a shift in percentages, Christianity is still, overwhelmingly, the most practiced religion in the UK, and Cooper believes that the traditional message is important to everyone, even non-Christians - particularly this year. 

He said: "I think it's important that whether we're praying for our Christian leaders, church leaders, or people just involved with Christmas stuff, whether they're going Carol singing, whether they put in on nativity plays whatever, that we pray that there'll be able to show the real love and the joy and the hope of Christmas.

 "This year, people are going to need hope with the cost of living crisis, with energy bills, with wars going on with lots of nasty stuff happening in news. 

"We all need some hope and that's what Christmas is about.

"Christmas is about the hope of Jesus coming to be the Saviour of the world.

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