Who killed off Christmas?

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The English Civil War that took place between 1642 and 1651 effectively killed off Christmas for a time. As it is today, Christmas was a major celebration up until 1642. Englishmen and women would take part in many traditional pastimes and during the twelve days of Christmas, churches would be decorated with rosemary, holly and ivy. Gifts were given at New Year and boxes of goods were handed out to servants and the poor.

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People feasted on roast beef, minced pies and Christmas ale and indulged in dancing, singing and acting out plays. It really was a merry time for all, just like our special celebrations at home today made even more special by creating our own bespoke decor featuring designer Christmas fabrics. Such merriment did include drunkenness and promiscuity, they were in desperate need of the Home StI kits that we have available from places such as Home STI kits from Greenwich Sexual Health  , but then Christmas has always been a time for shaking off stresses and letting your hair down. Particularly for the impoverished during this era. However, this is the exactly the kind of behaviour that the Puritans wanted to put a stop to.

Protestants thought that so much merriment and gluttony was all a bit too Catholic as well, as Christmas was a big celebration for Catholics who enjoyed dancing and gambling. The gentry were also being noticed for their ‘great Christmasses’ and so as the 1640’s approached, many English Protestants thought Christmas had all the trappings of popery and was indeed anti-Christian.

During the Civil War, the Puritans decided to abolish the celebration of Christmas and ban the customs but this proved difficult due to people’s deep rooted love for them. In January 1645 a new rule came into force that said ‘festival days’ were no longer to be continued. Thankfully, we can have as much merriment as we want these days and decorate to our heart’s content. Why not take a really tradition approach this year and make your own decorations using Christmas designer fabrics.

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In June 1647 came another edict abolishing the feasts of Christmas, Easter and Whitsun. Oliver Cromwell ordered that shops stay open on 25th December and a number of people attending church services on this day were taken into custody.

The Parliamentarians had banned the high point of the English year and this lead to a massive amount of resentment. Any hopes by the Royalists were again dashed in 1646 as Charles I’s forces drifted away. A writer at the time predicted that the collapse of the King’s rule had indeed killed Christmas. In 1647 there were even pro-Christmas riots at Norwich and Ipswich. The worst trouble occurred in Canterbury when shops that opened on Christmas Day were smashed up and rioters took control of the city. Such was the size of the disturbance that it even influenced a series of uprisings starting part of the Second Civil War.

It was only with the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, that Christmas was brought back to life, much to the joy of a great deal of people.

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