History Today: The educational archive of articles, news and study aids for teachers, students and enthusiasts, from the world's leading history magazine
HomeMagazinesHistory Today Current IssueHistory Review Current IssueHistory in the NewsArchivesSubscriptions & ShopPrint & Online SubscriptionsInstitutions OnlineGift SubscriptionsPurchase Online Articles History Today Back IssuesHistory Review Back IssuesMagazine BindersHistorical DVDsHistorical MapsClassifiedsInteractiveCompetitionsSpecial OffersPolling StationWhat's OnLinksBooksClassroomStudy GuidesReference SuiteOn This DayAbout UsNew to History Today?Contact UsHelp & Writers' GuidelinesPermissions & ReprintsAdvertising RatesTerms & ConditionsPrivacy Policy & Disclaimer
Lords of Misrule: The Puritan War on Christmas 1642-60
'Trappings of popery and rags of the beast'. Mince-pies, mummers, holly and church services all fell victim to a determined Puritan attempt to stamp out the celebration of Christmas under the Commonwealth.

During the seventeenth century, as now, Christmas was one of the most important dates in the calendar, both as a religious festival and as an important holiday period during which English men and women indulged in a range of traditional pastimes. During the twelve days of a seventeenth-century Christmas, churches and other buildings were decorated with rosemary and bays, holly and ivy; Christmas Day church services were widely attended, gifts were exchanged at New Year, and Christmas boxes were distributed to servants, tradesmen and the poor; great quantities of brawn, roast beef, 'plum-pottage', minced pies and special Christmas ale were consumed, and the populace indulged themselves in dancing, singing, card games and stage-plays.

Such long-cherished activities necessarily often led to drunkenness, promiscuity and other forms of excess. In fact the concept of 'misrule', or a ritualised reversal of traditional social norms, was an important element of Christmas, and has been viewed by historians as a useful safety-valve for the tensions within English society. It was precisely this face of Christmas, however, that the Puritans of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England found so objectionable. In the 1580s, Philip Stubbes, the author of The Anatomie of Abuses, complained:

That more ...




Full article available to subscribers or pay-per-view customers.
Please click to log-on, subscribe or purchase pay-per-view credits.

 Shopping basket Online subscription 
Purchase an online subscription from History Today's online shop, and proceed to viewing the article.
 Shopping basket Pay-per-view 
Purchase credits for pay-per-view and proceed to viewing the article.
Returning users with online subscription or article credits
Please use login box on your top right to log in.



User login

E-Mail
Password
Forgotten your password ?

Articles in Volume: 35 Issue: 12
Pastimes for Peter Pan
'99 per cent perspiration'
In Search of Lost Time
Lords of Misrule: The Puritan War on Christmas 1642-60
Tudor Collections and Collectors
The New Commonwealth Migrants 1945-62
William the Conqueror and Battle Abbey
What is the History of Popular Culture? (i)
What is the History of Popular Culture? (ii)
What is the History of Popular Culture? (iii)
What is the History of Popular Culture? (iv)
What is the History of Popular Culture? (v)
Chartism
Museum Piece
1985 December
Add this back issue to your shopping basket.
 Buy this back issue 
Home | Magazines | Subscriptions & Shop | Interactive | Classroom | About Us | Terms & Conditions | Privacy
© History Today 2007 All Rights Reserved