South Coast Says Goodbye To Host Of Christmas Traditions

published on 8 Dec 2014

A new survey of people from Portsmouth, Southampton and South East (government region) residents has revealed that a host of Christmas traditions are falling by the wayside because modern life is taking over. 

Turkey roast is falling out of favour with one third of people surveyed in Southampton, 30 per cent in Portsmouth, and 38 per cent of people across the South East saying they would consider an alternative to the turkey dinner. 

Researchers found that in Southampton 11 per cent of people would go for a completely different meal such as steak and chips with 8 per cent opting for a family takeaway. Whereas in Portsmouth only 5 per cent of people would opt for steak and chips and just 2.5 per cent would opt for a takeaway on Christmas day. However, 15 per cent of people in Portsmouth would opt for a vegetarian option compared to 10 per cent of people in Southampton.

In Portsmouth 68 per cent of people don’t plan to go to mass or Christmas eve services over the festive period this year. Whereas in Southampton more than half of people planned to attend church on Christmas eve or to attend midnight mass. Across the South East 54 per cent of people didn’t plan to attend. In Portsmouth and across the South East a quarter of people felt that traditional nativity plays were falling out of fashion and in Southampton 23 per cent of people felt that was the case.

And it seems people in Portsmouth are more likely to send Christmas cards than those in Southampton as 23 per cent of people in Southampton felt that sending Christmas cards was a disappearing tradition over the festive period – while only 13 per cent of people in Portsmouth felt the same. 

The survey, commissioned by The Salvation Army, revealed that people spend most of their time shopping and wrapping presents, perhaps because most people felt that giving and wrapping gifts, provides the most Christmas wellbeing with 78 per cent of people in Portsmouth citing it in their top three, with 60 per cent of people in Southampton and 67 per cent of people across the South East. Spending time with family was more important to people living in Southampton – with 48 per cent saying that helped their wellbeing in comparison to 43 per cent of people from Portsmouth (South East 48 per cent). 

Many people in the area now find that Christmas has become too commercial (38% Portsmouth, 36% Southampton, 34% South East). 

Half of people living in Portsmouth said they wouldn’t watch the Queen’s Christmas address, compared to 62 per cent who said they would in Southampton. 

Yet, many people in the region still thought that The Salvation Army, including its festive choirs and bands, was synonymous with Christmas. In Southampton 84 per cent of people thought so, compared to 68 per cent in Portsmouth, and 77 per cent of people in the South East. The Salvation Army is a Church as well as a charity, and will be holding services across the UK over Christmas to mark the birth of Jesus. 

Salvation Army churches and centres across the region are running toy appeals, Christmas day lunches for those who might otherwise be on their own, and emergency food parcel programmes this Christmas season. 

Lieut-Colonel Karen Shakespeare, divisional commander for the Southern division of the Church and charity, said: “It’s very easy to get caught up in the activity of preparing for Christmas. From October we begin to see the Christmas adverts and gift displays in the shops and people begin to talk about their preparations, and the gifts they are buying.

"For many people Christmas is also a time to spend with friends and family, to relax and enjoy the company of those people who are important to us.  But not everyone can enjoy Christmas in this way.

The celebration of Christmas and the giving of gifts is a reminder of God’s giving to humanity, and by volunteering to support those who are less fortunate than us we can find an alternative way of gift-giving, that reaches out beyond our family and friends to those who are in need. 

Over the Christmas period The Salvation Army conducts services and finds practical ways of supporting those in need. You are welcome at any of the services, or if you would like to help us help others, can donate to our Christmas fundraising appeal. Your gift will make a difference in someone’s life.”