Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May 01, 2012

Why Did the Puritans Ban Christmas? And Other Questions

The French Huguenots and English Puritans had a lot in common. They were both Calvinist, and they were both committed to upholding purity in thought, action, and personal dress. Both were known for the simplicity of their dress and their refusal to wear the immodest garments that were popular throughout the 16th and 17th centuries. Yet the fates of these groups were vastly different. While French Huguenots were persecuted, tortured, and killed at alarming speeds, unable to support themselves in exile as the “Church in the Desert,” English Puritans managed to be feared if not respect, and during Oliver Cromwell’s rule they gained as astounding amount of power. 

So it is true that the Puritans banned Christmas? If so, why? This is my own personal opinion, but as I am going from Scripture and from what I know of Puritan thought, I hope it is fairly accurate. Opponents might accuse the Puritans of despising Christ or the story of His birth. Actually, it was likely the opposite. They respected Him too much to celebrate His birth with rowdiness and roughhousing. Drunken carol-singing and gluttonous feasts were no way to mark Christ’s nativity. Many customs had pagan origins. If they banned Christmas, it was because they banned the non-religious to-do that Christmas had become. The food. The ale. The merriment. The constant attention and devotion to holiday customs that had nothing to do with Christ . . . just like today’s obsession with Santa Claus and finding the perfect gift. 

I believe that the Puritans banned Christmas so they might commemorate Christ. Suddenly they are not these somber long-faced moral policemen in solemn black. They are zealous and devoted followers of God’s Word who celebrate only what Christ said to celebrate and preach only those sacraments that He directly instituted in Scripture.

Sounds like a plan to me.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

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