Why Did Christians Ban Christmas in 1647?
When Christians Banned Christmas
Although many may say that Christmas is for Christians, history shows that instead of embracing the “holiday,” Christians throughout the years have stood against it. Even some of the very men that founded America fought to outlaw its observance.
In the 1640’s, the English Parliament discussed enacting a ban on Christmas because they believed that it was directly contrary to Christianity. One of the main reasons that the Puritans believed this was because the holiday was a mixture of “pagan revelry” and Catholic mandates. Being strongly against the ways of Catholicism, many Puritans forbade the attendance of mass in England, from which the name “Christmas” was derived.
In 1647, parliament not only passed a law banning Christmas, but also Easter, Whitsun and all of the special “saints” days instituted by the Catholic church.
When the Puritans came to America, they carried with them a desire to worship God in spirit and in truth, and to reject the ways of England. They continued to take a stand against the mandates of the Vatican, which they viewed as idolatrous. Additionally, they despised the way that many celebrated the Vatican-mandated holiday of Christmas by indulging in all sorts of drinking and gluttonous feasting. The Puritans believed these acts blasphemed the name of Christ.
In 1656, Hezekiah Woodward distributed a pamphlet about Christmas, which stated:
”Christ-Mass Day, the old Heathens Feasting Day, in honor to Saturn their Idol-God, the Papists Massing Day, the Profane Man’s Ranting Day, the Superstitious Man’s Idol Day, The Multitudes Idle Day, Satan’s – that Adversary’s – Working Day. Taking to heart the heathenish customs, Popish superstitions, ranting fashions, fearful provocations, horrible abominations, committed against the Lord, and His Christ, on that day and days following …”
On May 11, 1659, the Massachusetts Bay Colony legislature passed a law banning any observance of Christ’s mass, declaring:
“For preventing disorders arising in several places within this jurisdiction, by reason of some still observing such festivals as were superstitiously kept in other countries, to the great dishonor of God & offence of others, it is therefore ordered … that whosoever shall be found observing any such day as Christmas or the like, either by for-bearing of labor, feasting, or any other way, upon any such account as aforesaid, every such person so offending shall pay for every such offence five shillings, as a fine to the county.”
It is said that some, however, continued to celebrate the holiday in secret, and looked for priests who held mass services despite the prohibition against doing so.
While the law against Christmas was repealed in 1681 by English-appointed governor Sir Edmund Andres in an attempt to make the laws of the colony like those of Charles II in England ─ from whence the Puritans had departed ─ many individuals continued to stand against its observance. When Boston’s first Episcopal Church, King’s Chapel, began to hold services in commemoration of the holiday, not everyone attended. Judge Samuel Sewall wrote in his journal in 1697: “[My son] tells me that though most of the boys went to the church, yet he went not.”
Even though some continued to celebrate Christmas through the years, the Puritans believed that doing so demonstrated one’s support of the Roman Catholic Church, which they disdained. They were set against ecumenicalism, both regarding the traditions of Rome and the traditions of the land that they fought to be free from: England.
“The Puritan Ban on Christmas,” Timetravel-britain.com
“When Christmas was Banned in Boston” , AmericanHeritage.com
on December 16, 2010 at 7:04 pm | Dena