In 1644 Christmas was banned in England. You have probably never thought twice about Christmas as a holiday, even if you’re not religious you have most likely grown up celebrating the day with a big meal, partying and gift-giving. But what if you had that taken from you? Here’s what went down and how the people of yesteryear reacted.
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Why was Christmas banned in 1644?
In 1644 Oliver Cromwell was put into power and as he was a Puritan, he wanted England to follow puritan beliefs. Parliament passed an act that imposed Puritan beliefs over the whole country. Distancing the country from the Church of England and Roman Catholicism. Which meant Christmas and other traditionally Christian holidays had to be scrapped.
What is a Puritan?
Puritans were a group of English protestants in the late 16th and 17th centuries. They wanted to purify the Church of England and Roman Catholic practices, bringing them down to simple forms of worship. They didn’t like ceremonies and other practices that were performed but were not rooted in the bible. Feeling that they were against God.
What did people do on Christmas day when it was banned?
Instead of having Christmas celebrations, parliament implemented a day of fasting which was considered as part of Puritan worship. Businesses were told to stay open and the public had been told to treat it like it was any other day of the year.
How did people react to Christmas being banned?
As you can imagine there were protests across England. It was noted that people rioted and attacked shops, which of course were open. Why wouldn’t the people protest after having parties and celebrations taken from them?
Prior to Cromwell’s takeover there had been a civil war in England between the Puritans and Roman Catholics, and the banning of Christmas made sure it continued amongst the public even if the puritans had thought they won.
When did the Christmas ban end?
The ban was lifted in 1660 when Charles II had his title of King restored at the end of the civil war. However, Puritans continued to discourage people from participating in festive traditions and look down on people taking part in them.
Has any other country banned it since?
In America, Christmas was officially banned in Boston from 1659 -1681. Similar to England, traditional Christmas activities were made illegal in the state. This was also the doing of Puritans at the time, who had grown to dislike the Christmas feasting and other celebrations. They also banned it in rebellion to the English restoration of the holiday.
Christmas did not become a fully legal holiday again in Boston until 1870. However, even with the arrival of new residents in the area through the years leading up to 1870, schools and shops still opened on Christmas Day.
So, there you have it! In 1644 England banned Christmas, and as you can tell people weren’t ready to give up the celebration. If your government decided to take away Christmas holiday festivities would you take it well?