Now, here’s another Christmas tale for you - or, rather, perhaps an anti-Christmas tale. Many of us have the dimmest memories of being taught that ‘Cromwell banned Christmas’ as Lord Protector. Well, let me assure you, the real story is much more interesting… THREAD /1
For those of you asleep in history class, the English Civil War was precipitated by a number of factors, all touching on one source in some regard - Charles I’s belief that as a ‘divinely-anointed’ monarch, he overruled Parliament in his personal dealings home and abroad. /2
This attitude held little water with Parliament, & after a lot of very quite interesting politicking (seriously, read up), Charles I fled London, having failed in moves to quash dissent. In late 1642 he raised his royal standard, placing England in a state of civil war. /3
I’m not going to give you a history of the English Civil War (or wars, there was more than one), but just know that after chasing Charles’ forces around the country for a few years, the King was captured and would later be executed in London, during the cold January of 1649. /4
Way before Charles was executed, however, Parliament was enacting laws dictating how people lived & worshipped. This may be an odd priority for a government at war, but Parliament was full of Puritans - theological descendants of the previous century’s Protestant reformers. /5
Puritans had many beefs with the established Church of England, and even more with the ways in which the English led their lives. They had been pressuring the King for years, & had even won concessions, including regular legislated days of fasting. They wanted to go further. /6
Having shaken off the King, the Puritan-controlled Parliament enacted legislation to close theaters, ban sports and remove any hurdles to what they thought was the smooth path to heaven via hard work, prayer and fasting. The calendar of holidays was their next target. /7
Any religious holiday that the Puritans thought didn’t have a basis in the Bible were scrapped. Chief among these was Christmas, a holiday they thought was just an excuse to get pissed, eat too much and sloth about. Yeah, so they might have had a point, but, well, sod them! /8
Soldiers were posted to ensure that markets were kept open through Christmas, and that tasty treats weren’t being sold. They were also posted near churches, to make sure that nobody was sneaking off for an extra service. This was not a popular move, with the majority of folks. /9
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