Christmas under the Puritans

Both the religious and the secular celebration of Christmas was forbidden by the English Puritan republic, but by no means everywhere with success.

A sixteenth-century Puritan familyThere has been no stranger episode in the long history of the English Christmas than the attempt to suppress both the religious and the secular celebrations during the period between 1644 and 1659. Why was it made, and how far did it succeed?

John Knox was alone among the great Reformers in condemning all Church festivals and, at any rate until the Civil Wars, few English Puritans seem to have wished to do away with Christmas as such. To others than their sympathizers it must sometimes have been a distinction without much of a difference. The Puritans objected to the Popish associations of Christmas and to the excesses such as play-acting, gambling and dancing with which as the great national holiday it was associated more than any other season. But neither of the chief Puritan critics of Christmas before 1640 went so far as to advocate abolition.

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