Christmas is as much a time for checking work emails as it is for going to church, a survey has revealed.

Twenty-three per cent of 1060 people who completed a Colmar Brunton online survey said they would check their work emails on Christmas Day.

That is nearly as much as the 25 per cent who will go to a church service on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

Spokeswoman for the Auckland Catholic Diocese, Lyndsay Freer, said she thought people would "need to be a bit compulsive" to check work emails on Christmas Day.

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But she said the statistics were a reflection of the fact a large number of people were not Christian, and of the increasing popularity of computers and smartphones.

"I don't suppose checking your work emails means you're not going to go to church ...

"I don't know that I would check my work emails on Christmas Day.

"But certainly from the point of view from the Catholic churches ... our churches are absolutely chock-a-block full at Christmas time."

Tradition also takes a battering when it comes to the Christmas tree, with 71 per cent of those putting up a tree shunning the smell of pine in favour of a fake tree.

Santa Claus will go hungry during his dash around the country, with only 29 per cent of households planning to leave out food or a present for him.

The survey also showed the average age people stopped believing in Santa Claus was 8 years old.

But there is some comfort for those fearing the disintegration of society, with 84 per cent of people saying for them Christmas meant getting together with family and friends.

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Thirty-four per cent of people said it was most about the birth of Christ, and 5 per cent of people said the day only meant time off work.

Christmas will be spent with relatives for 53 per cent of Kiwis this year.

And despite the tensions that can come with family reunions, 61 per cent of those surveyed said they would be spending Christmas Day where they wanted to be.

Just 11 per cent admitted they would rather be somewhere else.