A Cromwellian Christmas

Oliver Cromwell by Robert Walker

 

If you remember, at about this time last year, we suggested an alternative to the modern, crazy, money-hungry Christmas and offered the notion of a return to medieval times for your celebrations.

This year, we thought, why stop there? So we did a bit of research and came up with another alternative: Christmas in the time of Cromwell.

Born in Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire in 1599, our Oliver grew up to be a Member of Parliament, but not the secret-party-planning type of politician we have come to know and love in modern times. OC, with his firmly held puritanical views, did not approve of the revels that ordinary citizens might have enjoyed in the 17th century.

Under his reign as Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland (1653-58), laws became very strict about anything that made Christmas a time of fun and frivolity. Even special church services were banned, and shops and markets were instructed to remain open on 25 December. No days-off to party.

In London soldiers patrolled the streets, with orders to confiscate any food that was being prepared for Christmas celebrations.

So, if you see the festive season as a wasteful festival that encourages immoral activities, you might want to retire from the whole nonsense and spend the day in respectful contemplation, as a good puritan should. You might miss out on the mince pies and the turkey, but you have a good reason not to waste money on presents and decorations.

To be fair to Cromwell, he didn’t start the banning business. The puritan community had been unhappy for a long time about festivals and a whole host of other earthly delights including the theatre, believing that giving freedom to carnal and sensual pleasures was very bad for Christians.

An ordinance in 1644 made festivals and feasts for Christmas, Easter and Whitsun illegal – until the Restoration brought it all back in 1660.

Banning Christmas was never a popular move and led to riots, so if you are planning a Cromwellian Christmas, you might find yourself alone and somewhat unpopular; but you ought to get some peace and quiet and have some money left when everyone else is nursing their hangovers.

 

 

 

Kitty Parsons

Kitty has forgotten how long she has been here now but she loves Pembrokeshire for its beauty and it's people. She spends her time searching out stories for pembrokeshire.online, swimming in the sea , drawing and painting as Snorkelfish and eating cake. She says "Pembrokeshire.online has been an opportunity to celebrate this beautiful county and its people. Keep the stories coming. We love to hear from you."

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