24 December 2012

The War on Christmas - in colonial America

Christmas celebrations in Puritan New England (1620–1850?) were culturally and legally suppressed and thus, virtually non-existent. The Puritan community found no Scriptural justification for celebrating Christmas, and associated such celebrations with paganism and idolatry. The earliest years of the Plymouth colony were troubled with non-Puritans attempting to make merry, and Governor William Bradford was forced to reprimand offenders...

In Puritans at Play (1995), Bruce Colin Daniels writes "Christmas occupied a special place in the ideological religious warfare of Reformation Europe." Most Anabaptists, Quakers, Congregational and Presbyterian Puritans, he observes, regarded the day as an abomination while Anglicans, Lutherans, the Dutch Reformed and other denominations celebrated the day as did Roman Catholics. When the Church of England promoted the Feast of the Nativity as a major religious holiday, the Puritans attacked it as "residual Papist idolatry"...

Puritans heaped contempt on Christmas, Daniels writes, calling it 'Foolstide' and suppressing any attempts to celebrate it for several reasons. First, no holy days except the Sabbath were sanctioned in Scripture, second, the most egregious behaviors were exercised in its celebration (Cotton Mather railed against these behaviors), and third, December 25 was ahistorical. The Puritan argued that the selection of the date was an early Christian hijacking of a Roman festival, and to celebrate a December Christmas was to defile oneself by paying homage to a pagan custom... 
Further details at the Wikipedia entry and at the one about Father Christmas.

No "Bah, humbug!" here.  TYWKIWDBI wishes everyone a Merry Christmas.  Stop surfing the internet and spend time with your family and friends.

Image: The Examination and Tryal of Father Christmas (1686).


  1. I learned about this from the Presbyterian Meeting House at Colonial Williamsburg -- I was visiting around Christmastime, and they had a "sample sermon" posted there, which ran long the lines you describe.

    It was logically quite sound, if you accept Presbyterian axioms -- men cannot make days holy, only God can do so, if God had done so it would be in the book, it's not in the book, ergo, Christmas is not a holy day. It went on to explain that there is exactly one holy day described in the book, and it's the Sabbath.

    I myself am lapsed (in a variety of ways), so happily I can be more flexible.

  2. Makes sense to me. Seeing as how there's no Biblical or historical precedent for celebrating Christ's birth on December 25, and seeing as how that date was traditionally a pagan holiday, then there's really no reason for Christians to celebrate Christmas. I hold to this view, as do many of the people I know who follow Puritan traditions today.

  3. Did anyone tell Fox News about the real anti-Christmas warriors? ;)


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