In some quarters the myth of “the war on Christmas” still lingers even thrives. In truth there was a such a crusade, but it took place in 1659 and it was here in Massachusetts. A minister of that day decided that that the celebration of Christmas was becoming too merry… too profane… too pagan-like.. too excessive. But two hundred years later the image of Christmas changed. Never underestimate the power of words and images. From the archive:
Chistmas Was Once Banned in Massachusetts
MassMoments reminds us today that the Puritans of Massachusetts led by minister Increase Mather thought the celebration of Christmas a vulgar, pagan-like and “profane and superstitious custom.” Over those early years the custom was never totally stamped-out. In the early 19th century when the revelry – especially drinking and merry-making that some associated with Christmas – was claimed to pose a threat to public order, middle- and upper-class Americans moved to re-make Christmas as a family holiday. The appearance of the poem – “A Visit From Saint Nicholas” by Clement Moore -presented an idealized, child-center Christmas. Santa Claus became the image of Christmas.
An 1856 Massachusetts law accorded legal holiday status to Christmas, Washington’s Birthday, and July 4 th. The success of including Christmas in this measure was due to the growing number of Irish Catholics in the electorate. To this day, Christmas Day is one day when public offices, government and most business shuts down.
On this day
…in 1659, a law was passed by the General Court of Massachusetts Bay Colony requiring a five-shilling fine from anyone caught “observing any such day as Christmas or the like, either by forbearing of labor, feasting, or any other way.” Christmas Day was deemed by the Puritans to be a time of seasonal excess with no Biblical authority. The law was repealed in 1681 along with several other laws, under pressure from the government in London. It was not until 1856 that Christmas Day became a state holiday in Massachusetts. For two centuries preceding that date, the observance of Christmas — or lack thereof — represented a cultural tug of war between Puritan ideals and British tradition.
Read the full article here at MassMoments.com.
Happy Christmas to All!