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Does festive decor put a damper on cheer?

Public Christmas displays increase stress in people who do not celebrate the holiday, a new Simon Fraser University study found.

Public Christmas displays increase stress in people who do not celebrate the holiday, a new Simon Fraser University study found.

“Christmas displays in December makes people who do not celebrate Christmas feel like they don’t belong,” said Michael Schmitt, the SFU psychology professor who headed the study.

Students who don’t celebrate the holiday experienced a negative shift in mood and self-assurance when placed in a room with a Christmas tree, the study found. Though the tree improved the mood of Christian students, it didn’t affect their sense of inclusion — yet it had an adverse effect on the sense of inclusion felt by Sikhs and Buddhists.

However, a Vancouver Buddhist group said yesterday that not only has it not dealt with any decorative dilemmas, it has embraced the holiday — and even put up a Christmas tree at its temple.

“For us, Christmas is like Halloween,” said Yonnie Wong of the Vancouver International Buddhist Progress Society. “It’s fun to decorate ... It’s cultural.”

Wong said while the group doesn’t celebrate the religious side of the holiday, it does participate in the charitable fundraising that comes with the season of giving.

Carolling by the Vancouver Art Gallery Christmas tree yesterday to raise money for homeless shelters, Delta resident Manveer Sihota, a Sikh, said it’s droll to think decorations are causing anxiety in those who don’t celebrate the holiday.

“It’s the same as saying that lighting candles outside your house during Diwali are stressing people who don’t celebrate Diwali,” Sihota said. “Decorations are supposed to bring cheer to people — just for the beauty of it.”

 
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