“For preventing disorders arising in several places within this jurisdiction, by reason of some still observing such festivals as were superstitiously kept in other countries, to the great dishonor of God and offence of others, it is therefore ordered by this Court and the authority thereof, that whosoever shall be found observing any such day as Christmas or the like, either by forbearing of labor, feasting, or any other way, upon such accountants as aforesaid, every person so offending shall pay of every such offence five shillings, as a fine to the county.”
Christmas celebrations in New England were illegal during parts of the 17th century, and were culturally taboo in former Puritan colonies until the mid-18th century. The Puritan’s found no scriptural justification for celebrating Christmas, and associated such celebrations with paganism and idolatry. Indeed, Christmas celebrations in 17th-century England involved carnival like behavior including role inversion, drinking, and sexual liberties.
So how did the Massachusetts Bay Colony come to ban Christmas in 1659?
Christmas in 17th century England actually wasn’t so different from the holiday we celebrate today. It was one of the largest religious observances, full of traditions, revelry and cultural significance. But the Puritans, a pious religious minority felt that such celebrations were a abomination distracting from conventional religious discipline. They also felt that due to the holiday’s loose pagan origins, celebrating it would constitute idolatry.
But Christmas wasn’t the only holiday on the chopping block. Easter and other important historical celebrations were also forbidden. Bans like these would continue through the 18th and 19th centuries.
Puritans heaped contempt on Christmas calling it ‘Foolstide’ and suppressing any attempts to celebrate it. Reasons being is that no holy days except the Sabbath was sanctioned in Scripture, second, the most egregious behaviors were exercised in its celebration, and third, December 25 was a historical pagan celebration. (The same reasons expounded by the armstrongism groups today.)
The Puritan argued that the selection of the date was an early Christian hijacking of a Roman festival, and to celebrate a December Christmas was to defile oneself by paying homage to pagan customs. This Puritan view prevailed in New England for nearly two centuries.
The laws suppressing the celebration of Christmas were repealed in 1681, but some staunch Puritan groups continue to this day to regard the day as an eternal abomination. Such is the mentality of the JW’s, and the ACOG’s among others within the 21st century. By living in the past and unable to adapt, the acog’s have doomed armstrongism to irreverent status and a sure demise.
So be it.