BOOK OF CHRISTMAS - online book

The Customs, Ceremonies, Traditions, Superstitions, Fun, Feeling,
And Festivities Of The Christmas Season.

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THE CHRISTMAS SEASON.                                   73
war, that the persecution of the puritans (who had long and zeal­ously labored, not only to resolve the various ceremonials of the season into their pagan elements, but even to prove that the celebration of the Nativity at all was, in itself, idolatrous) succeeded, to any extent, in producing that result, which the" war itself, and the consequent disorganization of society, must, in a great measure, have effected, even without the aid of a fanatical outcry. In the very first year of that armed struggle, the earliest successful blow was struck against the festivities with which it had been usual to celebrate this period of the year, in certain ordinances which were issued for suppressing the performance of plays, and other diversions; and in the following year, some of the shops in London were, for the first time, opened on Christmas day, in obedience to the feelings which connected any observance of it with the spirit of popery. By the year 1647, the puritans had so far prevailed, that, in various places, the parish-officers were subjected to penalties for encouraging the decking of churches, and permitting divine service to be performed therein, on Christ­mas morning;—and, in the same year, the observance of the festival itself, with that of other holidays, was formally abolished by the two branches of the legislature.
It was found impossible, however, by all these united means, to eradicate the' Christmas spirit from the land; and many of its customs and festivities continued to be observed, not only in obscure places, but even in towns, in spite of prohibition, and in spite of the disarrangement of social ties. The contest between the puritan spirit and the ancient spirit of celebration, led to many contests: and we have an account, in a little book, of which we have seen a copy in the British Museum (entitled " Canterbury Christmas; or a True Relation of the Insurrection in Canterbury"), of the disturbances which ensued in that city upon the Mayor's proclamation, issued in consequence of that parliamentary prohi­bition, at the Christmas which followed. This said proclamation, it appears, which was made by the city crier, was to the effect " that Christmas-day, and all other superstitious festivals, should be put downe, and that a market should be kept upon Christmas-day." This order, it goes on to state, was "very ill taken by the country,"—the people of which neglected to bring their pro
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