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Food & Drink

What are Americans’ most treasured holiday traditions?

Two in three would love to recreate the holiday magic of their favorite childhood memories this season

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holidays and celebration concept - close up of friends having christmas dinner at home, drinking red wine and clinking glasses
(Ground Picture via Shutterstock)

People feel endless nostalgia when the most wonderful time of the year comes around, according to new research.

A new survey of 2,000 US adults who celebrate a winter holiday found two in three would love to recreate the holiday magic of their favorite childhood memories this season, with 72% claiming they enjoyed the holidays more when they were young.

Sixty-nine percent of those polled had holiday traditions growing up and 43% said their longest-running holiday traditions have been going for 16 years or more.

Some of the most cherished traditions include decorating the Christmas tree (43%), seeing friends and family (40%), decorating the home (29%), watching classic holiday movies (26%) and eating holiday meals (25%).

More than a third (35%) said their fondest memories of the season occurred between the ages of 6 and 10 — an indicator of the golden era for holiday magic.

Conducted by OnePoll and commissioned by the makers of the SPAM® Brand to coincide with the launch of their new holiday flavor, respondents also shared what they felt indicates the “true” start of the holiday season: putting up the Christmas tree (47%), holiday music playing on the radio (47%), putting up holiday decorations (46%), watching holiday movies (44%) and seeing seasonal foods or holiday flavors (42%).

Additionally, those surveyed said “Jingle Bells” (31%), “White Christmas” (29%) and “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” (27%) are the top carols to put them in the holiday spirit.

Two in three survey respondents were parents, destined to create holiday memories with their children. A large majority of them (91%) want their children to experience the magic of the holidays. Nearly as many (87%) want to give their kids their own fond memories of the holidays.

Seven in 10 (71%) agreed the holiday season is the perfect opportunity to start new traditions. Just as many believe new holiday traditions can last just as long as the established ones from their childhood.

The survey also revealed 52% have adapted their childhood holiday traditions to the modern-day. This includes collecting new decorations (50%), watching modern remakes of classic holiday movies (43%) and connecting with friends and family virtually (41%).

One in four said their favorite way to modernize traditions is by re-creating old holiday recipes from their youth (28%).

“Now more than ever, people are seeking that warm and comforting feeling from past holiday traditions, and they want to share and evolve these traditions with their families,” said Jennesa Kinscher, senior brand manager for the SPAM® Brand. “This includes creating new yet simple ways to enjoy holiday activities and foods we love while establishing new interpretations of traditions that can be passed down for years to come.”

The survey found food plays a huge role in holiday traditions for 83% of people. Whether creating a new holiday dish or an old family recipe, respondents said they’re motivated to create it because their friends and family enjoy it (56%), they enjoy it themselves (56%) and because of tradition and nostalgia (43%).

Flavors and spices that evoke feelings of holiday nostalgia and comfort the most are cinnamon (58%), pumpkin (54%), peppermint (52%), cocoa (47%) and nutmeg (39%).

Over half (56%) of respondents have tried to re-create something for the holidays from their childhood — including favorite holiday meals (59%), baked goods or treats (59%) and decorations (50%).

“Food is such a big part of holiday traditions because the popular seasonal ingredients and flavors we all love triggers fond and familiar memories,” continued Kinscher. “That’s why we’ve summed up the spirit of the holidays in one SPAM® can, taking consumers back to the nostalgia and comfort we all crave.”

WHAT MADE THE LAST FEW HOLIDAYS MORE MEANINGFUL?

  • Being reminded what to be thankful for - 55%
  • Enjoying annual favorites such as food, movies and music - 51%
  • Being able to see family/friends again - 51%
  • Celebrating with kid(s) - 41%
  • Making new traditions - 40%

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 Americans who celebrate a winter holiday was commissioned by the makers of the SPAM® Brand between October 21 and October 26, 2022. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

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