hith-puritan-christmas

Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, children’s consumer culture remained closely linked to traditional seasonal rituals, even as they were commercialized.
Holidays, once associated with community identity and the reversal of authority roles, gradually became times of celebrating childhood and “gifting” children. In the United States, Christmas, long either ignored for reasons of religious purity or enjoyed in boisterous communal exchanges of food and drink, was identified with childhood and consumer goods by the mid-nineteenth century. The young symbolized the intimacy and innocence of family against the increasingly impersonal society that surrounded it. The child became a visible reminder of the adult’s own youth and the hope of the future. In effect, money earned in the market was transformed through the child’s presents into a sentiment of family life. Gradually, Santa Claus became the symbol of unrestricted giving to children. The story of his home at the North Pole, where elves, not sweatshop workers, made the toys, disguised the market origins of these gifts  [ Πηγή: Gary Cross, «Consumer Culture», Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood in History and Society, by Paula Fass, Vol. I, 243]

«Shocking as it sounds, followers of Jesus Christ in both America and England helped pass laws making it illegal to observe Christmas, believing it was an insult to God to honor a day associated with ancient paganism,» according to «Shocked by the Bible» (Thomas Nelson Inc, 2008). «Most Americans today are unaware that Christmas was banned in Boston from 1659 to 1681.»

All Christmas activities, including dancing, seasonal plays, games, singing carols, cheerful celebration and especially drinking were banned by the Puritan-dominated Parliament of England in 1644, with the Puritans of New England following suit. Christmas was outlawed in Boston, and the Plymouth colony made celebrating Christmas a criminal offense, according to «Once Upon a Gospel» (Twenty-Third Publications, 2008).

Christmas trees and decorations were considered to be unholy pagan rituals, and the Puritans also banned traditional Christmas foods such as mince pies and pudding. Puritan laws required that stores and businessesremain open all day on Christmas, and town criers walked through the streets on Christmas Eve calling out «No Christmas, no Christmas!»

In England, the ban on the holiday was lifted in 1660, when Charles II took over the throne. However, the Puritan presence remained in New England and Christmas did not become a legal holiday there until 1856. Even then, some schools continued to hold classes on December 25 until 1870.

Although the change was gradual, people began to once again embrace the holiday until Christmas as we know it today complete with mistletoe, eggnog and candy canes was celebrated throughout the American colonies» [πηγή]

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