Did Cromwell ban Christmas?

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Oh yes he did! Christmas was banned for eight years during his Protectorship, 1652-1660.

Celebrations continued in private. But it was no longer a public holiday and people had to work.

Christ-mass was not recognised as a Festival by the Church.

There was no Biblical authority for celebrating December 25, the birthday of Mithras – and the last day of Saturn’s solstice knees-up – as the birth of ‘Christ.’

And the ‘Mass’ had Popish associations.

Christmas then, as now, combined ritual and riot.

A century before Oliver, objections to ‘frivolous’ additions to the religious calendar, like Christmas, were voiced by Puritan leaders. They saw it as a wasteful festival that brought ‘great dishonour of God’.

And a decade before Cromwell’s Protectorship, the Long Parliament started clamping down on the celebration of Christmas, saying it should be kept, if at all, as a day of fasting and seeking the Lord.

Oh no he didn’t!

Cromwell was a model of tolerance compared to the Scottish Covenant to which a Charles II victory in 1650 at Dunbar and Worcester in 1651 would have delivered Britain.

Though ‘The Merry Monarch’ was certainly indulgent of his own personal appetites and no friend to ‘the kirk’ – he would convert to the Catholicism Protestants dreaded on his deathbed - his England would have been a far from laughing Cavalier country.

By contrast, after securing the realm and raising its prestige to its highest since Agincourt, Oliver stopped puritans banning wine ‘lest men be drunk’; gave arts funding to music; allowed women on stage for the first time in British history and the Jews back into England for the first time since 1290.

‘Christ Tide’ meant quiet, loving contemplation with his family. But he was no Scrooge.

For more about Puritans, Pagans and Christmas go to https://soundcloud.com/gaz29-1/the-meaning-of-christmas or follow the family-friendly Christmas trail at Oliver Cromwell House, Ely; tel: 01353 662062