Saturday, December 22, 2012

When Celebrating Christmas was Illegal, Part 2

After the English Civil War in the 17th century,
Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans established 
a theocratic government in England, 
a period known as the Interregnum or the Puritan Republic.
The Puritans favored a return to strict Calvinist principles,
a kind of an austere, no frills approach to life and religious worship.

In 1644, they passed an ordinance clarifying that indeed, 
the monthly fast legislated to occur on the last Wednesday of every month
included fasting on Christmas Day if the holiday fell on that Wednesday. 
The ordinance said in part that the fast on Christmas was:
to be observed with the more solemn humiliation ...
because of our sins ... 
who have turned this feast into an extreame forgetfulness of [Christ],
giving liberty to carnall and sensuall delights ... ."

And then there was this in January 1645:
Festival days, vulgarily called Holy days ... are not to be continued.

Nigel Jamieson aptly titled an abstract in the Oxford Journals: Statue Law Review
 "Oliver Cromwell: The Grinch that Stole Christmas."
It is ironic that the only western government established to preserve Christian beliefs
is also the one that banned Christmas celebrations of any kind.
Once the British monarchy was restored, 
Christmas celebrations were too, 
perhaps starting small, with a warm fire, a good meal,
and a few sprigs of holly and mistletoe.

No comments: