The latest poll by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute has found that nostalgia rules: "Silent Night" is the nation's favorite Christmas carol, and Miracle on 34th Street is our favorite Christmas movie.
In a vote where multiple responses were accepted, "Silent Night," a religious song dating back to 1818, received 50.8 of the vote. Irving Berlin's classic "White Christmas" came in second place with 48 percent of the vote. Receiving 44.4 percent, "Jingle Bells" came in third.
From among eighteen choices, 39.8 percent of respondents picked Miracle on 34th Street as their favorite Christmas movie. The classic It's a Wonderful Life starring Jimmy Stewart comes in at a close second with 36.8 percent of the vote. The film is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year. Close on its heels is A Charlie Brown Christmas, with 34.9 percent.
Dr. Kenny Embry, a Saint Leo University associate professor of communication management said, "Does America like melodramatic sentimentality and corn? Absolutely, and that's probably a very good thing. If you look at the responses, it shows Americans are both nostalgic and sentimental during this season. There's something inherently right about a people who embrace optimism and their history. It is interesting to note most of these movies were produced more than 30 years ago. Traditional values appear to continue to be touchstones for the American identity."
Many of the Christmas movies and TV shows also celebrate family. "In a season of cynicism and a brutal election season, it's nice to know optimism and nostalgia are an indelible part of the American character," Embry said.
Dr. Cynthia Selph, an assistant professor of music and music ministry at Saint Leo University, agrees: "We long for the cozy idea of Christmas with a manger scene, family and friends around a fire, and picturesque winter snowscapes no matter where we live," she said. "Maybe it represents a universal human longing for warmth, hope, and love in the depths of the dark days of winter time."
The Saint Leo University Polling Institute survey results about Florida and national politics, public policy issues, Pope Francis' popularity, and other topics, can be found here: http://polls.saintleo.edu. You can also follow the institute on Twitter @saintleopolls.