People use Google and other search engines for everything — including when and where to go to church on Easter.
Using Google Correlate, I tracked weekly Google searches for the word “church” for every week from 2004 through the end of 2013 (the entire 2014 is not available at this time). While searches for church remains steady during most of the year, searches spike during three weeks.
- Easter (and the rest of Holy Week). This is the week with the highest level of searches
- Ash Wednesday
Each of these weeks is important, particularly for churches that follow the Western liturgical calendar.
Not surprisingly, the search for churches during these weeks is correlated with searches for “Lutheran church” and “Catholic church,” both of which emphasize these holidays.
We seem similar spikes around Easter for searches for “Methodist” and “Presbyterian.” People search for these churches also around Christmas but not for Ash Wednesday.
The pattern is different for evangelicals and other churches that do not follow a liturgical calendar. Baptist-focused searches increase a bit around Easter, less so near Christmas. Searches also increase at the end of August, perhaps because this is when many Baptist churches have “Promotion Sunday,” the day indicating that children move up to the next grade level in their Sunday School classes. The day is often seen as the beginning of the “year” in many churches.
In a future post, I’ll show how the search patterns are different for Jewish congregations and other religious groups (spoiler: they spike around holy days, too).