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The Original War on Christmas - Puritans vs. Christmas

Christmas has a long history of victimhood. Modern, mostly American, Christians view it as a sacred holiday under threat by the heathen masses. If it isn't atheists demanding the secularization of the December holidays, then it is the non-Christian faithful seeking representation and acceptance of their own holy days. Either way, the very essence of Christmas is at stake every year.

The battle for Christmas has been raging for much longer than most people realize. Battle lines around the Winter Solstice have shifted over time, but at the heart of the conflict lies the darling of Western culture.

It may surprise you then, to discover that the original opposition to Christmas came not from the heathens, but the Christians. Not only that, but it came from one of the most Christian groups to ever Christian - the Puritans.

The war on Christmas
This Christmas, get ready for the ultimate showdown!

The Stakes - What is Christmas, really?

We've discussed the Pagan origins of Christmas in other articles. Were you to ask a modern Christian what the holiday was about, they would inform you that it is the celebration of the birth of their messiah - Jesus Christ.

We won't get into the weeds on the matter of historical evidence for the existence of such a figure. The pertinent fact here, is that if he was a real person, he most certainly wasn't born anywhere near December 25.

Originally, the 25th was a day for the celebration of the Winter Solstice. The darkest parts of winter were done. Summer was coming, and with it came relief from the hardship of barren winter.

These celebrations were different throughout Europe. Every culture had some version of this, but they were always quite rowdy. Feasting, drinking, and the occasional riot were all par for the course.

Rome changed all that, slightly. The Catholic Church didn't like all of this Pagan carousing. By the Middle Ages, the Winter Solstice had become Christmas. Little else changed. Most of the traditions were kept, with only the name of the holiday changing to refocus it on Catholicism.

Europeans would now attend a short Mass on Christmas morning, after which something akin to Mardi Gras erupted across the continent.

Later, Christmas was co-opted by Capitalism. This led to the creation of most of what we associate with modern Christmas. Santa's red suit, buying expensive gifts, monetized caroling, etc.

So, Christmas has only ever been tangentially about the celebration of Jesus Christ. Attacking Christmas is starting to make more sense, especially if you are part of one of the most hardcore fundamentalist Christian sects of all time.

Puritans Hate Fun, and Christmas

The Puritans get a bad rap in history. Remembered as joyless ascetics who were more likely to hang a witch than smile. They had a serious problem with revelry, and naturally hated Christmas.

Stereotypes begin somewhere, and while the Puritans weren't entirely joyless bastards, they definitely weren't jolly. They earned their reputation as extremists with a knack for moral panic.

Modern Christians overlook the overtly Pagan nature of the holiday. Puritans could not do so. Their whole shtick was to live as closely to the teachings of the Bible as possible. No part of the Bible mentions Christmas, or the celebration of Christ's birth.

As a result, they started campaigning for the abolishment of the Heathen day. Soon after the Church of England was founded by noted wife-murderer seeking divorce, King Henry VIII, a movement formed to get rid of Christmas.

The Anglican Church is a Protestant reformation under control of the British monarch. From the 1530s, every British Christian would have been raised under the watchful eyes of Anglican ministers.

Refocusing on the Bible, instead of complex Catholic Rituals was a major part of the Reformation. This movement inspired an even deeper adherence to scripture in the newly formed Puritans.

They sought to live according to the Bible, and nothing else. In 1620, the most fundamental faction of Puritans left England, where they perceived the Anglican Church as lacking piety, to found a colony in New England, North America. Finally, they had a place where they could create the most godly of societies.

Only one year into their stay, the Puritans began castigating those who celebrated Christmas. Governor William Bradford of the Plymouth colony made statements admonishing any who chose to take the day off work.

While the Puritans in New England were exiling any who didn't share their views, the Puritans in old England got a new leader. Oliver Cromwell, another famous bastard of history, rose to power in the middle 17th century.

Cromwell was a parliamentarian first, something to be respected, and had a distaste for the monarchy. He participated in 2 civil wars, and was one of the signees on the arrest warrant that led to the execution of Charles I.

Oliver banned the celebration of Christmas in 1645. He replaced it with a time of somber reflection and fasting. Sundays were to be the only day of celebration of Christianity, and by celebration he meant quiet contemplation.

He hated the Catholic influence he saw in the Anglican Church. Chasing the Royalists and Catholics to Ireland in 1649. There he was responsible for the wholesale slaughter of thousands of people. Unfortunately this was only the start of Ireland's woes.

Parliament was reformed and subsequently disbanded by Cromwell in 1651. Shortly after which, John Lambert, wrote a new constitution naming Oliver Cromwell the Lord Protector of England - for life. Luckily, Cromwell would die in 1659.

The Monarchy returned in 1661, with Charles II replacing his father as King of England. He brought with him many reforms, most notable of which was the return of Christmas.

Meanwhile, in Boston Massachusetts, Christmas was banned from 1659 to 1681. It would make a slight comeback, until the American Revolution in 1775. British customs were summarily rejected by the newly formed country, and would not return until 1870.

In summary, Christmas is fine. The war on Christmas is as much a real threat to modern Christendom as the Secret Satanic Cabal that runs all preschools. Now we can all forget about the most jolly of December holidays for another year.



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