My historical novels Rebel Puritan and The Reputed Wife, Herodias (Long) Hicks Gardner Porter, colonial New England, travels, and whatever else seizes my fancy...

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas - a Sacrilege?

1660 Puritan anti-Christmas notice.jpg
It is fairly well known that the Puritans of England and of New England were not in favor of celebrating Christmas.  The notice to the right clearly states just what the Puritans thought of exchanging gifts and greetings, dressing in fine clothing, and feasting: It was a Sacrilege, and Satanic to boot!

I had intended to compose a timely summary of how the Puritans and their non-Puritan contemporaries in Rhode Island observed Christmas - or not - but Christy Robinson beat me to it!  I highly recommend that you check out her excellent post:

Jon Stewart.jpg
Instead, I researched the above notice.  It's been around on the Internet for a while, and Jon Stewart featured it on the Daily Show last week.  I wondered just when and where the document came from, or if it was authentic.

Some clicks and Googles later, I find the document ascribed to both Pilgrims and Puritans, somewhere in New England in the 1700s.  The most specific citation, and the one which is the most believable said that it was printed in Massachusetts in 1660.

The reason that I believe that citation was because I found the Massachusetts law forbidding Christmas celebrations on pain of a five-shilling fine.  It was enacted in October 1658.  So while a quick search didn't turn up exactly when and where the above document was printed, I did find the law that it cited, enacted two years earlier.  Below is a printout, which also demonstrates the Puritans' dislike of gaming with cards and dice, which were apparently popular activities during Christmas "feastivals."

1658 Puritan anti-Christmas law.jpg

The Massachusetts Puritans' law indeed ordered a five-shilling fine for observing Christmas.  So, be grateful that times have changed.  We can now legally take Christmas day off, feast and exchange gifts, and wear fancy clothes without being considered Satanic.  In that case, let me wish a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year to all of you!


  1. Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of christmas. See the link below for more info.


  2. I read your blog.I thought it was great.. Hope you have a great day. God bless.



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