Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston



Sunday, December 9, 2012

The History of the Real War on Christmas

Here's a bit of history on who really waged a War on Christmas:

"When the Puritans came over on the Mayflower in 1620, they brought with them their strict ways, their religious views and their distaste for Christmas. Although Christmas was widely celebrated in Europe as a Christian holiday marking the birth of Jesus Christ, Puritans saw it as a false holiday with stronger ties to Paganism than Christianity.

As pious and reserved Christians, Puritans also took a dislike to the drinking and dancing associated with the holiday. After the Puritans left the Old World, they decided to leave these holiday traditions behind. Instead of feasting and giving gifts, Puritans commemorated Christmas by praying, reflecting on sin and working instead of resting. The Puritans even forced non-Puritan colonists, such as the Presbyterians, to work on Christmas day.

In his journal, William Bradford recorded a disagreement that ensued between him and some newly arrived non-Puritan colonists on Christmas day in 1621:

 “One the day called Christmasday, the Gov r caled them out to worke, (as was used,) but the most of this new-company excused them selves and said it wente against their consciences to work on that day. So the Gov r tould them that if they made it mater of conscience, he would spare them till they were better informed. … [Later] he found them in the streete at play, openly; some pitching the barr and some at stoole-ball, and shuch like sports. So he went to them, and tooke away their implements, and tould them that was against his conscience, that they should play and others worke. If they made the keeping of it mater of devotion, let them kepe their houses, but ther should be no gameing or revelling in the streets. Since which time nothing hath been attempted that way, at least openly.”

On May 11, 1659, the Massachusetts Bay Colony legislature even went so far as to officially ban Christmas and gave anyone found celebrating it a fine of five shillings. The legislature stated the ban was needed “For preventing disorders arising in severall places within this jurisdiceon, by reason of some still observing such ffestivalls as were superstitiously kept in other countrys, to the great dishonnor of God & offence of others, it is therefore ordered … that whosoever shall be found observing any such day as Christmas or the like, either by for-bearing of labour, feasting, or any other way, upon any such account as aforesaid, every such person so offending shall pay for every such offence five shillings, as a fine to the county. 

 The ban remained in place for 22 years until it was repealed after a new surge of European immigrants brought a demand for the holiday in the late 1600s. 

Even though the ban was lifted, Christmas was not warmly embraced by the Puritans and it remained a dull and muted holiday over two centuries later."


The folks at FAUX NOOZ, and particularly Bill O'Reilly, have had a jolly time for the last few years whining and promoting the ridiculous idea that there's a "War on Christmas."  The non-controversy is another way for the folks at the fake cable news station to get people feeling victimized, aggrieved, and stirred up enough to keep them watching their star fruitcakes lament the "secularization" of their special holy day. 

There is no war on a holiday that begins sometime after Labor Day and is the biggest money-spending season of the year.  We are deluged with images and messages for buying stuff the minute the last summer rose dies and before the leaves start turning colors.

Our local CVS pharmacy began playing Christmas songs the day after Halloween and Christmas decorations have been up since the first of November.  

There is no war on Christmas when people say "Happy Holidays" or send cards that say "Seasons Greetings."

When someone suggests that there is a war on Christmas, remind them of our heritage and our history--when Christmas was banned for everyone.  That was when we had a real "war on Christmas," and it was the Christian majority at the time who waged it. 


KP said...

Merry Christmas!


Rational Nation USA said...

Well Shaw, there is something easy to understand about all this. Christmas should be about Christ's birth and should celebrating the values he espoused rather than the materialist face Christmas has aquired over the centuries. The extreme materialism associated with Christmas has always amused as well as bewildered me. It seems contradictory to the teachings of Christ.

That from an atheist.

Merry Christmas to you and yours Shaw!

Shaw Kenawe said...

Anonymous, I don't know what your problem is. I will not allow attacks on people who comment here in good faith.

To my commenters: Sorry for the interruption.

Since I've deleted anon's flame-throwing, I thought there would be no need to keep the responses.

I may have to go back to comment moderation again, as much as I dislike it.

Even the pathetic Thersites came back the other day. He can't seem to stop himself from trolling this blog.

Dave Miller said...

On church this morning, one of the songs we sang was God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen... One if the verses speaks of battling those that would defame Christmas...

Seems this "War on Christmas" has been going on for quite awhile...

KP said...

Things are pretty calm in KP'ville.

What makes up KP'ville? I made a chart. It starts with a circle where I wrote with KP and Spouse in the middle. From that circle I made spokes and placed a circle at the end of a spoke for (kids), (friends & mentors), (community), (spirituality), (Business), (Key Family) and (Second Family or in-laws).

From the circle with kids in it I have spokes to (education), (peers), (Second Family or in-laws).

I made a similar chart for places (not people) in my hometown. Grocery stores, where I lift weights, bike routes, office, coffee shops, restaurants.

This was a useful tool to explain my life to others. In private, I asked myself if my actual time allocation matched my life's priorities, and those of my family. I'm laying out my next 12 months and my chart helped me set priorities. It helps to take time to consider who's truly important.

All good on this end. I'm going to sit this war out.


BB-Idaho said...

"War on Christmas" has been going on for quite awhile...", reminds of
the gloomy stanza from Longfellow's
'And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"
..written back in the Civil War..and folks still battling over
how Christmas should be viewed.

Paul said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shaw Kenawe said...

No, Steve, not hypocritical. Christmas can be celebrated as a winter festival. One doesn't have to be religious to join in the festivities, because much of the traditions come down to us from pagans.

Take what you like from the traditions and leave what you don't like out of it.

It harms no one. And it's a fun way to get past the long dark days of winter.

I am not a believer, but I do like the celebrations of the winter solstice.

Shaw Kenawe said...

KP, it's always a good idea to take stock of where one's life is going--even if events can disrupt our best laid plans. Hope is the thing with feathers!

BB Idaho, sadly, in my lifetime, there has never been "Peace on Earth" and in our current political climate, no "Goodwill towards men."

But it is something we can always strive for. Yes?

Paul said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shaw Kenawe said...

"To celebrate something you don't believe in, is hypocritical. To help perpetuate an irrational belief that has so much power over the way non-believers live, means you have no convictions."

I celebrate the Winter Solstice; the beginning of the lengthening of days, the defeat of darkness.

I also grew up in an Italian family that had traditions around this time of year. The memories of those traditions help me remember my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and these past few years, two sisters who are gone forever.

I am not a believer, but to keep family traditions at this time of year around food, music, and, because I live in the northeast, the wonder of the winter season with those who are still with me gives me comfort and joy.

Open your heart to what is good--being with your family and friends. You don't have to be a believer to do this.

Infidel753 said...

RN: Christmas should be about Christ's birth and should celebrating the values he espoused

The December 25th date as a god's birthday comes from the Persians about 600 years before the alleged time of Jesus (that's right, all those Christians are celebrating an Iranian holiday), the revelry and gift-giving comes from the pagan Roman Saturnalia, the Christmas trees and a lot of the other trappings come from Germanic paganism. None of this stuff has anything to do with Jesus, who according to the Bible wasn't even born in the winter.

As for me, as an atheist I don't mind celebrating an Iranian holiday with Roman practices and pagan Germanic trappings, but if I have to listen to any more of those horrible versions of Christmas carols they play in the stores.....

Shaw Kenawe said...

Infidel753, the Pope recently admitted that Dec. 25 is NOT Jesus's birthday. You are correct, of course, that the early Christians chose the Roman Saturnalia to celebrate their god's birth so that their rejoicing would not call attention to the new, persecuted religion.

No shepherds would be keeping watch over their flocks in the middle of winter. Most people know that Christmas is essentially a pagan holiday that the early Christians hijacked for their own purpose.

That's why I have no problem with people chosing to do whatever makes them happy at this time of year.

For me, December 21 is the happiest day of the year.

It's the rebirth of the Sun!

Rational Nation USA said...

@ Infidel - I am fully aware of that which you mention. My point was in response to the post and in particular the Puritans. Guess it missed the boat. Not that I care really.

@Shaw - Thank you for your wonderful response to Steve.

I will add that while I am one of two non believers in my family (my brother being the other) the misses and I thoroughly enjoy seeing the joy the Christmas season brings to our grandson, niece and nephew. I would never do anything that would change that for them.

@ Steve - Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays, whichever you prefer. Cause to me its all the same and I don't care what you think.

KP said...

I am reminded of little Susan, the six year old in "The Miracle On 34th Street"; the 1947 film starring Maureen O'Hara, John Payne, Natalie Wood and Edmund Gwenn. A sweet, sweet movie!

skudrunner said...

"To celebrate something you don't believe in, is hypocritical."

And to not be able to say what you believe in is??

We have lost the ability to use common sense. What harm is there in someone saying merry christmas even if you don't believe. It doesn't offend me to see people happy for a season or for mankind.

In the entire history of mankind, more people have died in the name of religion than any other ideal. It does appear ironic that people are killed in the name of a forgiving god, budda, allah or what ever you believe in.

I was not aware that Bush started the practice of christmas shopping.

Paul said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shaw Kenawe said...


You need to get help for the anger you carry around in you.

No one deserves to be the object of such dreadful invective. I've let you come here and use this blog to share your opinions.

I've had enough unhappy events in my life over the past few years, I don't need any more, least of all your unreasonable attacks on me.

I'm sorry your life is so unhappy that you feel the need to be verbally aggressive toward me. Just know that I hold no animosity toward you.

I wish you could find the peace and tranquility you so desperately need. It's a big world out there.

Choose tolerance, forgiveness, and happiness. It's better for your health.

Dave Miller said...

Thank you Shaw... I hate it when the more liberal, or progressive blogs have the same anger issues on display at some of the more conservative blogs.

We like to say that we are above that, so when people attack, we need to respond.

Keep up the good work Shaw...

S.W. Anderson said...

Anyone who can't accept "Merry Christmas" as a well-intended greeting that simply means "I wish you happiness" is self-absorbed with some unhealthy emotional issues. To that person, it's all about him or her and what they feel and believe. How dare someone cloak their wishes for others to have some happiness in a term they find unacceptable?

Such presumptuous intolerance is pitiable. If the person makes a show of how unacceptable they think the greeting is, they're guilty of very bad manners.
It's so much easier and nicer to simply respond with, "happy holidays" or "I hope you have a wonderful Christmas," as anyone who cares at all about the other person's feelings would do without a second thought.

okjimm said...

I am ready for a war on Easter, to be honest. I mean, c'mon...the guy dies, rises from the dead, sees his shadow and we get six more weeks of winter. Really!

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