The Law That Banned Christmas

From an article in FROM THE HOUSETOPS, VOL. 19, NO. 3 []


ON May 11, 1659, in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the colonial legislature made Christmas illegal: "Whosoever shall be found observing any such day as Christmas . . . shall pay for every offense five shillings," read the law.

Although we think of Pilgrims as ideal Americans, actually they were a cantankerous group of "believers" who had little or no tolerance for those who had different ideas. To Robert Brown and his Pilgrim associates, Christmas was nothing more than "a popish frivolity" at its best and the "dreadful work of Satan" in their midst, at worst. Highest on any reliable and trustworthy Pilgrim's list of intolerable things was any holiday smacking of Roman Catholicism.

Because of its association with pagan festivals of early times, the Pilgrims went so far as to outlaw the color green. Pilgrim preachers used their pulpits to strongly denounce holly and ivy as "seditious badges" which were always to be looked upon as unmistakable signs of the Devil at work. The lawmakers were forced to issue annual proclamations to remind the people of the ban on frivolity on Christmas Day. Thanksgiving was introduced as a substitute for Christmas.

Did the colonial leadership finally rescind the outrageous Christmas ban? Did the colonists riot and spill blood over this issue as the people in England did some years before? No, the harsh law banning Christmas lightheartedness remained in effect until 1681.

In 1681, Christmas could finally be celebrated without dire consequences in the Massachusetts colony. Yet the Pilgrim chill in the holiday persisted for another 175 years. Children in the area of New England were still made to attend school on Christmas Day. This rule applied in Massachusetts up until 1856.

The Struggle against Christmas Goes On

With the growth and expansion of the nation a new sense of materialism made itself felt. Before long there was less and less room for the Christ Child. The Christ Mass was overshadowed by the profit motive and consumerism. Under one of our most popular presidents an attempt was made to lengthen the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas in order to extend the pre-Christmas shopping period. Happily this failed.

Pilgrim bigotry has long been defeated only to be replaced nationally by the growing power of another Messianic minority. They have again looked to the law to suppress the memory of the Christ Child and the Cross of Our Salvation. Over our nation, from tiny hamlets to state and federal governments, new laws have been introduced and old ones reinterpreted to ban the public recognition of Christmas as a Holy Day and transform it into a Holiday.

Our so-called leaders are enshrining a false principle called pluralism. Ultimately it will lead to a one world religion with an altar to Democracy. Pluralism is the illegitimate father of democratic state atheism.

We must remember, though, that Christ promised that He would be with us forever even to the end of the world. The Pilgrims of old did not succeed in banning Christmas from their world, though they tried very hard to do so. The secularists of today are more subtle in trying to ban Christ from Christmas. They may seem to be succeeding but ultimately Christ will stay true to His promise and the gates of Hell will not prevail against His Church or against Himself. Pray we may keep Christ in Christmas and in our Hearts!