Monday, December 19, 2011

The History Of Christmas: Part 3- Christmas is Cancelled

I mentioned earlier how the puritans were against all frivolity and fun and thus outlawed most of the earlier customs associated with Christmas. Well it got so bad that by the early 17th century that Christmas was- by all official religious doctrine- completely outlawed. The puritans didn’t even acknowledge the day in somber religious masses or quiet contemplation- they outright cancelled it.

Why? Because the puritans believed in purity of worship and doctrine and sought to identify the truth of the religion they practiced. One of the truths they advocated was that Christmas as celebrated by members of the protestant church was a creation of those seeking to keep pagan traditions alive. They focused on historical records which pointed to the birth of Jesus as occurring during the summer and stated that all the customs and traditions of the holidays were paganistic, hedonistic and therefore unholy.

So, during the great English Reformation they outlawed the holiday and its practices. However, this movement (along with many others) made those still in the Church of England (i.e. protestants) very unhappy and there was a great split between puritans and those remaining. Many of these devout puritans traveled to modern day America to form their own colony so that they could practice their religion as they saw fit. Those who remained in England separated entirely from the Church of England. Protestants remaining in the church returned to the more traditionally Catholic celebrations of the holiday.

Puritanism lost popularity and therefore numbers of followers back in the homeland but continued to go strong as more came over to America seeking religious freedom. And so it was that Christmas as is traditionally known did not come to America until relatively recently.

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