History of the United States
Colonial America

Why was the celebration of Christmas outlawed in the 1600's in England and in parts of the English colonies in America?


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Protestant Reformist viewed it as a pagan ritual and believed it dishonored God, and made a mockery of their religion. William Bradford, governor of Plymouth Colony ordered all Christmas celebrations ended. And appointed "mince sniffers" to patrol the town seeking out people who baked traditional mincemeat pies.

Puritans had understandable reasons for their passionate dislike of Christmas. In the 16th and 17 centuries Puritans watched the Twelve Days of Christmas degenerate. It had become the custom of town rabblerousers to elect a King of Misrule at Christmas, who, according to a Puritan observer, led his followers into the "Devil's own recreation to mock Holy things." Masquerading in fancy green and yellow costumes, bells tied to their ankles, they would dance through the quiet church yard and on into the the church itself. Ignoring the Mass being read, they pranced on wooden hobby horses up the center Isle. To the accompanying din of skirling pipes and rattleing drums, the poor protesting priest was pulled from his place while the shameless King of Misrule took his place and desecrated the altar by drinking and dicing before it. Meanwhile, riotous companions drowned out the measured music of the Mass with the coarse shouts of Yule, Yule, Yule, Three puddings and a pule. Crack nouts and cry Yule.

When outraged clergy or shocked parishioners tried to halt the rabble they would be publically ridiculed or ridden out on a rail. Those refusing to give money to the King of Misrule were dunked head first into the nearest duck pond. When in 1633 one distinguished Puritan barrister protested in print against such sacrilegious abuse of Christmas, he was fined three thousand pounds, had his ears clipped, and was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Demanding reform, the Puritans began a relentless campaign against this 'Over celebration.' and was one of their motives in migrating to America. -Mysterious New England. Yankee Magazine 1971