Friday, December 21, 2007

An Outlawed Christmas

In the early 17th century, a wave of religious reform changed the way Christmas was celebrated in Europe. When Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan forces took over England in 1645, they vowed to rid England of decadence and, as part of their effort, cancelled Christmas. By popular demand, Charles II was restored to the throne and, with him, came the return of the popular holiday.

The pilgrims, English separatists that came to America in 1620, were even more orthodox in their Puritan beliefs than Cromwell. As a result, Christmas was not a holiday in early America. From 1659 to 1681, the celebration of Christmas was actually outlawed in Boston. Anyone exhibiting the Christmas spirit was fined five shillings. By contrast, in the Jamestown settlement, Captain John Smith reported that Christmas was enjoyed by all and passed without incident.

After the American Revolution, English customs fell out of favor, including Christmas. In fact, Congress was in session on December 25, 1789, the first Christmas under America's new constitution. Christmas wasn't declared a federal holiday until June 26, 1870.

I had to read those three paragraphs the second time in an effort to make them more believable. It is hard to imagine the a nation who's very principle are based on Christianity do not make the day we recognize as the birth of Christ an official holiday until 1870. It took that long for Congress to allow the working-class of this nation, the people who literally built this nation, have an official day off from their 6-day work week. That to me is amazing, but it only goes to show the power of big business, even that far back in our history. Find out more about htis topic at:

Research info gathered at:

Now, here's a poem with a questionable history:

The Elf In Us

Memories of Greenland using a soundtrack
of Indonesia. A whole village of elfs & fairy
folk. The smell of whale oil. Literature & life
melting together. All waves have eyes.

Speeding tortoises on an indoor-outdoor carpet.
Nose holes that move up the flat surface of an
igloo. A coconut shell. "I long to learn about
illusions we call one", she says, staring at the f
ly-buttons. "And the red-tail hawk might gloat
over his stash of shiny skirt zippers", I reply,
sensing an approaching octopus play. Cool fog.
Sets of pint-size footprints. Then spits out the
skeleton of its prey...
scarlet flowers bugling from straw baskets...

scared winds blowing over ancient burial
sites. Such an elegant sea when we make it.
Or raven feathers mixed with the act of what
we do...

as two hands play hide & seek...
more likely hoofed or leaping.
To pour forth from the center of a typhoon.
Or bananas that prefer to be bunched together...

a tribal song or historic howl...
Or a ten-page thesis on the sex life of barnacles.

Poem first published at:
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Copyright 2007 by Maurice Oliver. All Rights Reserved.

1 comment:

Paula said...

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.