Skip to comments.When Christmas was illegal: the Holy War against Christmas in North America (Calvinism)
Posted on 12/22/2010 9:01:56 PM PST by narses
Few people engaged in the "War on Christmas" are aware that at one time it was a crime in Massachusetts to celebrate Christmas. Oh sure, some will say, count on liberal Massachusetts to pass a law against Christmas. But it was Calvinist Massachusetts, in the days of the Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay colonies, the Pilgrims and Puritans, that established penalties for the observance of Christmas Day "by abstinence from labor, feasting, or any other way."
The noisiest opposition to public celebration of Christmas today comes from professed agnostics and atheists, particularly those seeking "freedom from religion." But there are still devout Christians who proclaim that "The Christ of the Bible does not represent a perpetuating of idolatrous customs of any kind, like that of Christmas, Halloween, or Easter, nor will He live in any confessed believer, or save, or protect any person who has any association with these idolatrous days," citing among other scriptures, II Corinthians 6:14-17.
There is a reason this holy war against Christmas does not receive the same media attention as the secular war against Christmas: Those who consider Christmas "the deception of Satan the Devil" are not going to court or seeking to use the machinery of government to sway people one way or the other. They are simply preaching, to anyone who will listen.
Some denominations, such as the Seventh Day Adventist Church, maintain that "When the world at large celebrate the day, they show no honor to Christ," but rather than denounce all celebration, recognize that parents "will find it a difficult matter to pass over this period without giving it some attention." Accordingly, Adventist theologians advise "let not the parents take the position that an evergreen placed in the church for the amusement of the Sabbath-school scholars is a sin; for it may be made a great blessing."
Anglicans, Roman Catholics, and Lutherans, celebrated Christmas from their earliest arrival in North America, as had always been their custom. (Some stories attribute to Martin Luther the first Christmas Tree dragged inside a house a decorated.) However, Presbyterians and Baptists did not, nor did many Methodists, particularly those converted by revival during the Great Awakening of the 1740s and 1750s. So the holiday did not have a prominent role in the community at the birth of the new United States of America.
No state legally recognized a Christmas holiday until 1836, and the federal congress did not acknowledge such a holiday in legislation until 1870, just six years before the nation's centennial. Santa Claus was invented in the 1840s by a committee of New York businessmen who wanted to promote sales. They borrowed the tradition of "Sinter Klaas" brought to New York by Dutch immigrants - originally a variation on St. Nicholas.
The first White House Christmas Tree was decorated by President Franklin Pierce in 1856. Bringing a tree into the White House only became a regular annual event in 1889, when President Benjamin Harrison celebrated Christmas with his children and grandchildren.
In 2010, Colorado atheists have splurged on billboards to protest nativity scenes at Denver city hall, scenes that have already been thoroughly litigated. In New Jersey, the Catholic League indulges in dueling billboards with American atheists. It is certainly not an old American tradition. Everyone seems to forget that, at the time the Constitution was written, nobody thought much about Christmas at all, not even Christians. Before the separation of church and state, it used to be against the law to celebrate Christmas.
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Liberal plots notwithstanding, the Americans who succeeded in banning the holiday were the Puritans of 17th-century Massachusetts. Between 1659 and 1681, Christmas celebrations were outlawed in the colony, and the law declared that anyone caught “observing, by abstinence from labor, feasting or any other way any such days as Christmas day, shall pay for every such offense five shillings.” Finding no biblical authority for celebrating Jesus’ birth on Dec. 25, the theocrats who ran Massachusetts regarded the holiday as a mere human invention, a remnant of a heathen past. They also disapproved of the rowdy celebrations that went along with it. “How few there are comparatively that spend those holidays after an holy manner,” the Rev. Increase Mather lamented in 1687. “But they are consumed in Compotations, in Interludes, in playing at Cards, in Revellings, in excess of Wine, in Mad Mirth.”
The Calvinist Puritans were tossed out of England after Cromwell’s murderous dictatorship outlawed art, music, theater, anything fun. In US history, by contrast, they have been romanticized as the inventors of the Thanksgiving turkey.
Oh, horrors! Those evil nasty Clavinists! Calvinians. Whatever.
Well and good, but what connection with Calvinism are you alleging? The Puritans were generally Calvinists in matters of salvation, but it was their view of the covenants, and specifically the Regulative Principle, that led to their rejection of all religious practices not specifically prescribed by Scripture. While the two systems often do appear together as a matter of history, there is no direct logical connection between the Doctrines of Grace and the Regulative Principle.
While the differences in theology and dogma can be endlessly debated, historical fact cannot. Where ever Calvinists have had a monopoly on power they have established a society void of color, joy and hope.
Really? So those who believe what Jesus said, that all those who believe in Him will have everlasting life, tend to create joyless dictatorships? Methinks you extrapolate too much from too little, and have presented a sweeping generalization that cannot be factually supported. You have believed a highly selective, skewed history, a history as told by Calvinism’s enemies, but not in its own native tongue. Meet them on their own terms, in their own words, and you find them a humble, God-fearing people who sincerely wished to obey God in all things. In other words, you find them Christian.
In the absence of any effort on your part to articulate evidence of a connection between Calvinist soteriology and the Regulative Principle, I must assume you are conceding the point that there is no such connection. I gladly accept your concession.
The Puritans had it exactly right, because they knew their Bible and their history. The holiday celebrated on Dec. 25th has nothing to do with the birth of Jesus Christ and everything to do with pagan traditions.
I always wondered when I was younger, what does an evergreen tree, and the colors red & green, have to do with Jesus? The answer is nothing, but they have everything to do with the worship of the Babylonian god Tammuz (mentioned in Ezekiel 8:14), which dates all the way back to the times of Genesis. Tammuz worship was well known to Jeremiah, who specifically warned against its tradition of the decorated tree in Jeremiah 10:2-4...well before the birth of Christ!
It is believed by many scholars that Jesus was actually born in autumn, and specifically on the Feast of Tabernacles, where back in Exodus chap. 25, God said that he would come and dwell with us (not enough space to fully argue this point.)
So what do I do on Dec. 25th? For now, I celebrate “Christmas” with my family because they don’t know any better, and I believe it better to show love until they can come to the truth.
He who has ears to hear, let him hear. (Matthew 11:15)
ROTFLMAO! You are getting more funny with every post.
” The holiday celebrated on Dec. 25th has nothing to do with the birth of Jesus Christ and everything to do with pagan traditions.”
Like Jesus said, let him who has ears to hear, let him hear. Study before you draw conclusions, FRiend. I wasn’t born believing this either.
Unbiased readers who happen to read this thread can easily tell the difference between posters posting thoughtful posts vs those who can’t refute the arguments, and they just keep rolling on the floor, thinking that is going to impress anyone or help him/her win the argument.
I also find it peculiar that someone with a tagline: “Prefer nothing to the love of Christ” shows no respect towards a fellow human being.
Have you no sense of humor? Read the posts again. Try hard. Then laugh.
Not all, but the Calvinists have every chance they have had. Whether Calvin's Geneva, Cromwell's oppression of the English, Scottish and Irish peasantry or the hell that was the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the theme was a joyless dictatorship in which thought crimes were aggressively pursued and punished. I guarantee that for all of their denial or chest thumping no present day loud mouthed Presbyterian would willingly spend a single day under the thumb of a Calvinist regime.
It is true, against the excesses of Roman Catholic worship, the Calvinists sought to “purify” the church. They (We) took away all unBiblical customs for New Testament worship. So, for example, no incense, no fancy robes, no crossing yourself, no holy water, no recitation of the rosary, etc.etc.etc.
Christmas is one of the many “holy days” recognized by the RC Church. The Calvinists said Sunday is the holy day, and we don’t get to set up any others.
As a Calvinistic Christian I applaud the early Calvinists’ efforts to get rid of all the man-instituted stuff of worship and return to Biblical standards.
However, I celebrate Christmas as do most Calvinists of today, at least in the U.S. It’s just not celebrated as a high holy day, because Calvinists reject special days as regards to worship.
We love Christ, we love that He was born of a virgin in a manger, we love that He rose again. The rejection of particular high holy days as instituted by a church should not have us described as nasty scrooges. The few in my church who don’t celebrate Christmas at all are still kind and sweet people.
“Where ever Calvinists have had a monopoly on power they have established a society void of color, joy and hope. “
Nope. There is feasting, there is revelry, there is joy.
There just isn’t Roman Catholicism!
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