Malls Become Sanctuaries To More Than Just Christmas Shoppers


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Displays like this in Chicago are becoming more common: Photo by Túrelio

The holidays usher in images of the season -whether you celebrate with Christmas Trees or Hanukkah candles, or don’t celebrate at all, you probably spend some time at the mall. According to a new study, you’re not alone – many others are turning to shopping centers as a location for fellowship and celebration.

Seasonal Shopping

For millions of people, the images of the season are of shoppers rushing to the malls, purchasing gifts for their holiday celebrations. What happens to the people who are not of the dominant faith in an area when the holiday season comes? According to a study conducted by Temple University’s Fox Business School, people turn to the mall as a gathering point for like-minded people.

Malls Attracting People Of Faith

Using in-depth interviews with people of Jewish, Muslim and Christian faith living in Tunisia, Israel and the United States, the authors of this study explored the holiday season and how people coped with being a minority religion in an area. In the majority of participants, the answer was to meet friends and others of the same faith at the mall.

Decoded Science asked co-author Allaya Ruvio why she believed the mall had become a gathering place, more than traditional meeting places. She replied,

I think consumption became such a dominant practice of the holidays, that gathering in the mallisperceived as a normal act that replaces other, more traditional, places (e.g. the church or the synagogue). However, for minorities the mall is even more important as for them it’s a place where they can congregate a critical mass for an authentic experience of the holiday.

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