Oliver Cromwell and the Abolition of State Sanctioned ‘Christmas’

Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) - Lord Protector
Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) – Lord Protector

Oliver Cromwell and his elected Parliament (following the English Civil Wars  0f 1642–1651), legally abolished the State sanctioned celebration of Christmas Day and the 12 days of Christmas (which began either on December the 25th or 26th, depending on interpretation, and culminating on ‘twelfth night’, or January 5th or 6th – a period also known as ‘Christmastide’).  Although at that time, New Year’s Day was officially March the 25th (Lady Day) – many at the time considered January the 1st as signifying the start of the new year, despite the fact that the Parliament of Great Britain would not formerly adopt the Gregorian Calendar until 1750, thus making January the 1st officially New Year’s Day.  The English Civil Wars were three campaigns that saw the progressive (and well educated) British middle class militarily wrestle power away from the aristocracy and the totalitarian monarchy it supported.  This revolution saw the Parliament of Charles I (1600-1649) rise-up in principle and law, and openly question the king’s ability to rule through divine right.  Parliament successfully mobilised the peasants and workers from all over Britain, whilst Charles I equally successfully marshalled the middle and upper classes to his banner.  Towns and cities literally declared allegiance for one side or the other – and a vicious and murderous set of battles ensued that led to the death and maiming of tens of thousands.

Although Charles I was defeated twice, he would not give-up his claim to divine power, and refused to recognise or cooperate with Parliament’s new regime.  As he kept supporting and encouraging uprisings against Parliament, Cromwell had Charles I charged with Treason.  Charles I was tried, found guilty, and sentenced to death by beheading.  This is how bourgeois, liberal democracies came into being – and despite the battle between the middle and upper classes – this model of governance is now the ‘preferred’ format for much of the world.  Karl Marx wrote in the mid-1800’s that the next stage in world revolution will involve the working class rising-up and taking political power away from the middle classes and instigate Socialist reform.  However, it is generally believed that this can only happen if the bourgeois (i.e. middle class) has already taken power – which it has in most of the developed world.

Oliver Cromwell was a very civilised, intelligent and progressive individual.  He was also a devout Christian.  Why, then, did he agree to ‘ban’ Christmas?  He carried out this progressive measure because he thought that it was a great evil for the State to ‘enforce’ a religious celebration upon its citizens.  As a consequence, Cromwell oversaw the legislation that ‘banned’ the State sanctioning of a national holiday that had, in his and many other Christian’s eye, no connection with legitimate Christian practice.  When the Roman Catholic church arrived in the West, it found a well established indigenous religion with its own holy days (Wiccan) and seasonal celebrations.  December the 21st was a special day termed ‘Yuletide’ which saw the non-Christian peoples celebrate the passing of the dark days and the renewal of the light.  The Catholics usurped this winter festival and arbitrarily declared December the 25th as the ‘Mass of Christ’ as a means to celebrate Christ’s birth.  This ecclesiastical sleight of hand was designed to convert the so-called ‘pagans’ to the new religion by giving the false impression that both belief systems had similar days of worship.  Cromwell, as a Calvinist Protestant, shared the broad Anglican view that the Catholic church had embraced non-Christian celebrations that had no biblical president, or theological justification.  The notion of ‘Christmas Day’ was therefore ‘evil’ because it was pagan inspired and copied by a corrupt (Catholic) church.  Just as Catholicism was banned at that time – so its celebration of ‘Christmas Day’ was also banned.  This ban only extended to the ‘official’ celebration of Christmas, but did not extend into private celebrations behind closed doors.  Cromwell’s viewpoint was that private individuals could do as they please with regards to personal religious beliefs, but that the State should not be seen to ‘officially’ support such views.  Around 250 years after Cromwell, Lenin would espouse a similar viewpoint – declaring that religion was a personal matter that should have nothing to do with the State or governance of the people.

Today in the UK, the law outlawing the State celebration of Christmas Day on December the 25th still exists, but following the Restoration of the British monarchy in 1660, (a counter-revolution), Many of Cromwell’s reform were either directly repealed, ignored, or abandoned.  Oddly, the banning of Christmas was not repealed and remains on the statute books in the UK, however the police refuse to enforce it on the grounds that this law is not commonly popular.  What is meant by this is that the banning of Christmas – an annual ritual inspired by greed – is not popular amongst the British middle and upper classes which directly support the conservative (i.e. rightwing) Church of England.  This so-called ‘policing by consent’ has nothing to do with the ‘majority’ of the people in the UK – as the majority are by the far the voiceless working class – but everything to do with the minority middle class that currently holds political power.  This hypocrisy can be seen in action with the recent banning of fox-hunting in the UK – a law the police refuse to enforce because it directly effects the middle and upper classes who hold all the real political power in the country.   When ordinary people gather to protest the ripping apart of a fox by hungry hounds – the police arrest and charge these ‘lawful’ protestors – but leave the law-breaking hunt enthusiasts alone!  Why view in the cold light of day – Christmas certainly is a crime perpetuated by a foreign Christian religion that should have no place in the UK.

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