By Hilary white 

LONDON, December 11, 2007 ( – In Britain, an officially Christian country, a poll has revealed that at least one in five cannot name the basic elements of the Christmas story as it is recounted in the Bible.

Of respondents to a ComRes poll, the age groups 18-24 and 25-35, 36 per cent and 27 per cent, respectively, did not know the name of the town in which Jesus was born. 25 per cent and 24 per cent of the same age groups could not identify the “an angel” as the source of the Virgin Mary’s information about the impending birth of Christ. The numbers were even higher in the 35-44 and 45-54 age groups with 28 per cent and 24 per cent. 28 per cent of those in the 55-64 age group also answered the question in correctly.

In the 18-24 age group, 63 per cent could not name John the Baptist as Jesus’ cousin with 58 per cent of the 35-44 age group not able to answer correctly. When asked “Where did Joseph, Mary and Jesus go to escape from King Herod when Jesus was a young child?” from age groups ranging from 18 to 54, as many as 84 per cent did not know.

In the meantime, the relevance of Pope Benedict XVI’s recent warning against the heavy commercialization of Christmas in western countries was brought home by a poll by the same company showing that younger Britons chronically overspend at Christmas or feel guilty if they do not.

20 per cent of those polled between the ages of 18 and 34, agreed with the statement, “I can’t really afford to spend what I want, but I will spend it anyway and borrow what I can’t afford.” In the same age groups, up to 46 per cent said “I’ll feel guilty if I can’t provide the kinds of gifts my family or friends expect.”