For the past five years, Research Co. and Glacier Media have taken a look at the mental state of Canadians as we approach the holiday season.
In 2018, 57 per cent of Canadians told us that they expected more fun than stress. The proportion fell to 50 per cent in 2019 and plummeted to an all-time low of 30 per cent in 2020, as COVID-19 limited our ability to travel and be near friends and family.
Last year, with some restrictions and mandates related to the pandemic still in place, 49 per cent of Canadians said they expected a holiday season that would be more fun than stressful. This upward trend continues in 2022, with 52 per cent of Canadians predicting a carefree holiday season.
As always there are some regional nuances. Majorities of Ontarians (56 per cent), Quebecers (54 per cent) and Albertans (51 per cent) are ready to predict a stress-free holiday season. The proportions are lower in British Columbia (49 per cent), Saskatchewan and Manitoba (also 49 per cent) and Atlantic Canada (42 per cent).
Canadians who voted for the Liberal Party of Canada in the 2021 federal election are the most likely to predict a fun holiday season (60 per cent) than those who supported the Conservative Party of Canada (54 per cent) or the New Democratic Party (NDP) (42 per cent) last year. Canadians of European descent are more likely to expect stressful weeks ahead (31 per cent) than their counterparts of South Asian (27 per cent), East Asian (24 per cent) and Indigenous (21 per cent) origins.
The needle did not move much on a separate question. The proportion of Canadians who prefer “Merry Christmas” as the greeting for the season remains significantly high (64 per cent, up two points since 2021), while just over one in five (21 per cent, up one point) choose “Happy Holidays” and 15 per cent (down three points) are undecided or do not care either way.
While “Merry Christmas” is far from the all-time high of 74 per cent it enjoyed in 2018 it continues to outrank “Happy Holidays” by a 3-1 margin. Across the country, fondness for “Merry Christmas” is highest among men (67 per cent), Canadians aged 55 and over (66 per cent) and residents of Saskatchewan and Manitoba (74 per cent) and Alberta (70 per cent).
Canadians who voted for the Conservatives last year are more likely to prefer “Merry Christmas” (78 per cent) than those who cast ballots for the Liberals (62 per cent) and the New Democrats (50 per cent).
“Merry Christmas” is also chosen by majorities of Canadians whose origins are European (64 per cent), Indigenous (57 per cent) and South Asian (56 per cent). Canadians of East Asian descent are almost evenly split, with 43 per cent preferring “Merry Christmas” and 40 per cent selecting “Happy Holidays.”
Again, we queried Canadians about some of the food staples of the season. More than four in five (84 per cent) say they like turkey, including an eye-catching 95 per cent in Atlantic Canada. Cranberry sauce is a welcome addition to the holiday table for 64 per cent of Canadians, climbing to 73 per cent among those aged 55 and over. Brussels sprouts are enjoyed by 60 per cent of Canadians and 68 per cent of British Columbians.
The “sweet stuff” remains more contentious. While more than half of Canadians (55 per cent) like eggnog, its “approval rating” falls to 43 per cent in Quebec. The holiday beverage is a hit with Canadians of Indigenous descent (74 per cent), but is only appealing to 37 per cent of Canadians of South Asian origins.
A majority of Canadians like fruit cake, but 38 per cent of residents aged 35 to 54 are not particularly thrilled to see it as an option for dessert. Fewer than half of Canadians like mince pies (48 per cent) and plum pudding (42 per cent), while just over a third (36 per cent) enjoy mulled wine.
Our annual look at the holiday season shows that Canadians have gone back to their pre-pandemic frame of mind during this time of the year. The level of expected stress is nowhere near where it was in 2020, and more than half of the country’s residents are predicting a time filled with joy and not tension.
Mario Canseco is president of Research Co.