Sunday, December 04, 2005

The Real Story of Christmas

Thanks to Corrente for this tidbit from the History Channel. Note the last sentence:
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.
It was interesting to see that with all of O'Reilly's noise, Fox's own website didn't contain a single reference to Christmas, using generic references to the "holiday season" instead. Of course, after this little bit of hypocrisy was pointed out by the blogosphere, Fox made a rapid editorial revision to the site and plastered references to Christmas everywhere.

Physician, heal thyself.

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