By Barbara Falconer Newhall
Christmas is big — bigger than Christianity. And it’s getting bigger.
Our decades-old World Book Encyclopedia devotes four dutiful pages to Christianity — and nine luscious full-color spreads to Christmas. Copyrighted 1994, our family’s set of books sits on a shelf within reach of our dining room table. There, it was a handy reference in our pre-cell phone days whenever a dinner table conversation veered
into a debate over, say, which came first, Hannibal crossing the Alps? Or Alexander crossing the Hellespont?
(Hannibal made his journey in 218 BCE. Alexander began his conquests 116 years earlier, in 334 BCE. But you knew that already, didn’t you?)
Christianity’s Popularity Gap
And now, with the digitization of everything, the popularity gap between the religion and the holiday yawns even wider. A Google search for “Christianity” at this writing produced about 117 million results. It took the Google crawlers exactly 0.58 seconds seconds to come up with that list.
“Christmas” takes Google a whole lot longer to search — .76 seconds. That’s because Christmas scores a blockbuster 1.73 billion results.
Christmas 1.73 billion. Christianity 117 million.
Back in 1994, if the pages of our World Book are any indication, Christmas was a little more than twice as meaningful to seekers of knowledge as Christianity. Today,
Christmas is leaving Christianity in the dust: It’s got 15 times the Internet mentions of Christianity.
To put things into a 2016 popularity contest perspective, my search for “Donald Trump” brought up a 419 million results in 0.73 seconds when I Googled him. For the record, that means that during the third week of Advent, 2016, the media celeb turned pol was a bigger inspiration than Christianity. No surprise.
But, hooray for Christmas. The holiday has got the hotel mogul beat — by a smashing four-to-one margin.
Until he decides to cross the Hellespont.
More Donald stories at “Jesus Was a Loser. Does That Make Trump a Winner?” More Christmas at “Witnessing to the Light With Tinsel and Rudolph.”