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The Puritan War on Christmas

'Trappings of popery and rags of the beast'. Mince-pies, mummers, holly and church services all fell victim to a determined Puritan attempt to stamp out the celebration of Christmas under the Commonwealth.

The Westminster Assembly, which met from 1643-49, in a Victorian history painting by John Rogers HerbertDuring the seventeenth century, as now, Christmas was one of the most important dates in the calendar, both as a religious festival and as an important holiday period during which English men and women indulged in a range of traditional pastimes. During the twelve days of a seventeenth-century Christmas, churches and other buildings were decorated with rosemary and bays, holly and ivy; Christmas Day church services were widely attended, gifts were exchanged at New Year, and Christmas boxes were distributed to servants, tradesmen and the poor; great quantities of brawn, roast beef, 'plum-pottage', minced pies and special Christmas ale were consumed, and the populace indulged themselves in dancing, singing, card games and stage-plays.

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