The Boston Globe reports:
The Puritans who ran the Massachusetts colony were so deeply opposed to Christmas that they actually banned the holiday for a generation. When the holiday was celebrated in old New England – in the teeth of concerted opposition from both church and state – it was apt to take the form of an irreligious and increasingly violent public celebration that left citizens worried for their safety. As for the commercialism that sullies today’s holiday – the constant advertising, the frenzied buying of Christmas presents – that tradition, at least in Boston, is older and more deeply rooted than going to church that day.
On December 25, 1685, Boston Magistrate Samuel Sewall proudly wrote in his journal that “the Body of the People profane the Day” – that is, the town’s residents went about their work as usual – “and blessed be God no Authority yet compel them to keep it.”
As Mather saw it, Christmas was a holiday of pagan origins, all too often an occasion for “dancing and drunkenness, chambering and wantonness.” (Chambering was a common euphemism for fornication.) Mather summed up his analysis by quoting an eminent English bishop: “Men dishonour Christ more in the twelve days of Christmas, than in all the twelve months besides.”
Let’s chamber it up, people – it’s cold out there! Who knew so many of us were already observing such a traditional December Christmas.
(h/t to my Dad)