One In 10 Britons Do Not Know What Christmas Day Means

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By Tom Porter | December 15, 2013 5:05 AM EST

A worshipper places her hands on a painting of Jesus in the Grotto, where Christians believe Virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus, during her visit to the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank town of Bethlehem (Reuters)

As Christmas looms closer, and we are inundated with advertisements and tormented with jingles, it seems that the festive season is bigger news than ever.

Yet despite this, many of the basic facts of Christmas, and what we are celebrating, seem to have been lost.

Research released this week shows that one in six Britons do not know that Christmas Day traditionally marks the birth of Jesus, with one in 20 believing that he was born on Christmas Eve, and the same proportion believing that he was born on Good Friday, the day Jesus was crucified.

One in ten had no idea he wore a crown of thorns, instead thinking he had sunglasses on, or in one case the crown jewels.

The poll of 2,000 people conducted to mark the release of The Bible mini-series on DVD also revealed widespread confusion about other parts of the Bible, with many ignorant of who Adam and Eve were and unable to recognise any of the disciples.

The news comes as Fox News presenter Megyn Kelly caused a stir by claiming that Santa Claus and Jesus were both white.

Kelly has refused to apologise for the comments, which have caused a storm of outrage, and now claims they were "tongue in cheek".

"In kicking off the lighthearted segment, I offered a tongue-in-cheek message for any kids watching, saying that Santa, who I joked is a real person ... is white," she told her viewers on Friday night.

The comments were prompted by a piece by Aisha Harris in Slate, which claims that Santa Claus and Jesus should not only be portrayed as white, and more inclusive Christmas icons used as well, such as penguins.

"Jesus was a white man, too. It's like we have, he's a historical figure that's a verifiable fact, as is Santa, I just want kids to know that. How do you revise it in the middle of the legacy in the story and change Santa from white to black?" She asked in the Wednesday edition of her show.

The controversy was addressed by Reza Aslan, a scholar of religions and author of the recent bestseller Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth.

An expert, Aslan said that "as a Galilean, he would have been what is referred to as a Palestinian Jew. He would look the way that the average Palestinian would look today. So that would mean dark features, hairy, probably a longer nose, black hair," Aslan told the Washington Post.

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