The History of Parliament blog has a new post today about how Christmas was celebrated, or not, in the mid-17th century, which users Pepys’ diary’s one of its examples:

Pepys invariably began his Christmas Day with church-going, in 1662 and 1664 to two services each day. Later in the day he usually went out. Once he saw a wedding; once he tried to go to the theatre, but there was no play on; and often he socialized with his employer or patron. The 1656 Parliament-men might have approved of his choice of activity on Christmas Day 1663, even though Pepys, with his roving eye when around women he fancied, was hardly a Puritan: he went to his office to work. Some Christmases, though, he stayed in all day with his wife, playing or listening to music; reading or being read to. The diverse pattern of the Pepys household Christmas might give us pause for thought about the supposed binary Yuletide cultural divide.

Read more on the History of Parliament blog.



3 Comments

Mary K  •  Link

According to a historian's comment heard recently on BBC Radio4, banning of Christmas feasting arose originally out of a coincidence of dates. During the Commonwealth, it happened that one Christmas Day fell on a Wednesday and Wednesdays were already established as prescribed Fast Days. Thus no Christmas dinner in that particular year - and the more zealous Puritans took this as a precedent that no Christmas Day should be celebrated with feasting in any future year.

I did not catch the name of the historian alleging this origin for the banning, so cannot vouch for it's authenticity, but one can see how it might have evolved in this way, particularly if urged by the Puritan 'great and good'.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

My understanding, Mary K, was that the crackdown on Christmas was because it was not celebrated by Jesus ... and nor was Easter and Lady Day, Twelfth Night, etc. These holidays were all Catholic "inventions" and the Puritans didn't do Catholic. Hence, no Bishops and church hierarchy. December 25 was just another day on the Calendar (and we all go along with it because we always have -- Jesus was probably born in the Spring because that's the only time of year shepherds were used in the Holy Land to protect ewes and their new born lambs).

But the Puritans did do feast days and holidays, so they had one once a month, but it had nothing to do with the ecclesiastical calendar.

Where is Australian Susan when you need her?

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