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There was once a law that actually banned the celebration of Christmas for 22 years.
On May 11, 1659, in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, members of the legislature passed a law making all Christmas festivities illegal!
The anti-Christmas law was passed just four years after England had repealed a similar statute. It had proven to be extremely unpopular on this side of the Atlantic, just as it had been over there. Most people in the Colonies, regardless of their faith, wanted Christmas to be a day of gift giving, feasting and merrymaking.
The unique legislation was worded in part: “Whosoever shall be found observing any such day as Christmas … shall pay for every offence five shillings.”
Accordingly, a citizen was in serious trouble on Christmas day if he or she “read common prayer, danced, played cards or played any musical instrument except the drum, trumpet, or jews harp.”
The Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, William Bradford, admonished his people:“We must take the sternest measures against this popish [catholic] day.”
Christmas day was to be solely devoted to hard labor. Bradford further found it necessary to rebuke the “lusty young men” in the Colony who chose “to pitch ye barr, and play at stoole ball and such like sports” on Christmas day.
One unbending old judge, Samuel Sewell, sternly warned those in the Colony not to sin by making minced pies or plum pudding over the holiday period. He vociferously proclaimed that women who committed such misdeeds would surely be “cursed by God for eternity.”
The Massachusetts Bay Colony was this continent’s stronghold of the Puritans, one of which was influential Robert Brown. He wrote: “The day called Christmas really means Christ-Mass. It is of the devil!”
To Brown and his associates, Christmas was no more than “a popish frivolity” at best, and “the dreadful work of Satan” in their midst, at worst. Highest on the list of intolerable things to a Puritan was any holiday smacking of Roman Catholicism. The logic? Hadn’t Catholics celebrated Christmas for centuries? Was this not reason enough to condemn Christmas as a work of the devil?
According to Puritan John Burton Smythe, Christmas had to be outlawed in order “to keep purity among the people.” And the ban would “protect them from the wiles of the devil who has been known to be working in the hearts of many good people.”
Those Puritans in positions of authority believed the legislation was truly a necessity. Why? The law’s preamble spells it out. It was designed “for preventing disorders among the people.” And furthermore, it would “prevent the observing of such festivals as were superstitiously kept in other countries to the great dishonor of God and the offense of others.”
Did the Colonial leadership finally rescind their Christmas prohibition?
The harsh law remained in effect until 1681 until King Charles 11 and his Royal Commission stepped in and forced its repeal.
Only then could Christmas finally be celebrated without suffering dire consequences in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
Historical Christmas Cooking & Baking in America is chock full of delightfully delicious cooking ideas favored by many famous families of yesteryear.
It contains the prized recipes for those Christmas dishes served and eaten by some of the early settlers in the American Colonies.
Here will be found the favorite Yuletide dishes of some of the heroes of the Revolutionary War.
You will be able to fix and then eat the same things served to those great men who so bravely signed the Declaration of Independence and those involved in writing and signing our great Constitution.
You will be able to sample the identical food eaten at Christmas by those foreign heroes who volunteered to fight and die for our freedom.
And lastly, you can enjoy sharing an identical Christmas meal with those who wore both the blue and the gray during the War Between the States, or as some unreconstructed Southerners still refer to it, the War of Northern Aggression.
Included are recipes for tasty Christmas breads and many other kinds of baked goods, really good meat and poultry dishes, soups and stews and stuffings – and, yes, even pickles as well as loads of other wonderful things.
Here is a list of some of the more unusual items used by housewives of the past. The original measurement is given first just as she may have had to use it in one of her recipes. This is followed by today’s updated version of the same item:
Saltspoonful ¼ teaspoon
Dessertspoonful 2 teaspoons
Teacupful ¾ cup
About the Author
Pelton has carefully mined hundreds of sources for historical cooking and baking recipes from the early days of America. He has perused innumerable old cookbooks as well as yellowed and tattered handwritten receipt ledgers from both private and public archives and libraries. Through all this, he has been able to skillfully recreate these treasures of the past in an unparalleled series of 10 historical cookbooks. Each recipe has been meticulously updated for use in kitchens of today. His latest is titled A Treasury of Family Recipes From the Time of the American War for Independence.
Robert W. Pelton proudly claims a heritage going all the way back to well before the War for American Independence. One of Mr. Pelton’s ancestors, John Rogers, came to America on the Mayflower and was one of 41 signers of the Mayflower Compact.
Another, John Smith was one of the founders of Jamestown.
Peleg Pelton served as the fifer in the Continental Army at age 18 during the Battle
of Saratoga (1777) and again in Yorktown (1781).
Captain Peter Hager was Commander of the Old Stone Fort in Schoharie, New York, in 1780.
Another, Captain Bezaleel Tyler fought in the only Revolutionary War Battle taking place in Sullivan County, New York. Here he fought against Mohawk Chief Thayendeneges, who was also known by the name of Joseph Brant,
Mr. Pelton is a member of Sons of the Revolution (SOR), and Sons of the American Revolution (SAR).
For a Power Point Presentation covering the Words, Dreams, Beliefs, and Aspirations of Our Founding Fathers or Cooking and Baking during the Civil War or in the American Colonies contact Mr. Pelton at 910-339-5354; 865-776-6644 or by e-mail at:
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Although at first glance this is an intriguing title do not buy the nook version of this book . The formatting ,at least on the color nook, is terrible to the point of being unreadable. Even if free it would not be worth the effort !