Christmas cards have a huge social impact and could even save lives, according to a new study by a charity.
The research, published in the journal PLOS ONE, found that the card was seen as a ‘social justice gesture’ and even when used by children, they were more likely to share with someone who was not their friend or family member.
The study also found that people who shared Christmas cards with their friends were more than twice as likely to receive a Christmas card from a family member, and a similar proportion of adults received a Christmas gift from someone who didn’t live in the household.
A large proportion of the adults in the study also shared Christmas greetings with family members, which could have led to an increased likelihood of receiving a Christmas present.
‘It’s important that we understand how people use the card to share a Christmas story and to provide positive messages about giving, in a way that is not only positive for children, but for adults as well,’ said lead researcher Dr Elizabeth Goh from the Children’s Hospital at the University of Sydney.
‘In our study, we found that a card from our study was seen more often as a Christmas gesture than a gift from a person who was neither a friend nor a family friend.
We found that even though it was a gesture that was shared by the majority of participants, people were less likely to get a card or gift from those who were not their friends or family members.
‘Our findings have some implications for how people share gifts, as the card itself may not be the source of a good gift.
If it is, then it is important that adults do their best to be sensitive to the need to share.’
The study also provides important insight into how a card might affect a person’s feelings about the recipient, and how the recipient might respond to the card.
This can be particularly important when the card has a social meaning, and is seen as such.’
Our research also has important implications for those who use charity cards, as our results suggest that the more a card is shared by a person, the more likely that person will feel that the person who received it was generous.’
We also hope that these findings will encourage people to share their Christmas cards in a positive way, as it can bring a smile to the face of others, and can help raise money for charity.’
The study included a total of 6,000 participants aged 18 to 79 from across the UK and the United States.
It was funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the Australian Research Council.
Find out more about Christmas card sharing