Why are Protestants so crazy for Christmas?

Christmas is the feast of the nativity (the celebration of the birth of Christ) set by the Catholic church to be celebrated on December 25th.

This is a Catholic Holy day (holiday). In fact it is so Catholic that the original Reformers refused to celebrate it. Especially the Puritans who settled the Americas. In fact Christmas was not celebrated in America until the 19th century when scores of Catholic immigrants migrated to America and the holiday caught on, eventually becoming a national holiday.

I know lots of Protestants that take the celebration of Christmas as the celebration of the birth of Christ very seriously. To which I am very thankful.

But I wonder at what point did the Protestants go from refusing to participate in this “Catholic” holiday, to embracing it?

I’m not sure your statement even comes close to being accurate. :eek:

It’s more complicated than that. Protestants never objected to religious observance of Christ’s birth. What they objected to were the festivities and celebrations that have their origins in the saturnalia of the solstice season, which the Catholic Church itself had unsuccessfully tried to stamp out when they put a Christian seal on the season by designating December 25 as the birth of Christ.

Luther did not make Christmas a target of reformed practice. But Calvin did, and his attitude was adopted by the English Puritans. When they came to power in England under Cromwell one of the first things they did was to outlaw festive observance (as well as any other type of observance) of the holiday. The same ban was also put in place in colonial New England (where the Puritans were the established church).

But Puritan opposition to Christmas had little effect on what happened in Connecticut. Likewise, the Anglicans in Virginia made Christmas a time of feasts, hunts, and balls.

In colonial times, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Quakers, and most Baptists ignored the holiday. But Episcopalians, Lutherans, and Dutch Reformed did observe Christmas (albeit without Santa Clause, toys, and Christmas trees). German immigrants, however, did have Christmas trees.

Advertisements for Christmas gifts appeared as early as the 1820s. Alabama made Christmas a legal holiday in 1836, Connecticut 1845, Massachusetts 1855, and by the end of the nineteenth century it was a legal holiday in all states.

What happened in the nineteenth century to dispel hostility of Christmas festivities among Protestants who traditionally did not celebrate Christmas was a combination of consumerism and Christianization.

Basically, merchants and store owners saw the season as a time to make money and they wisely emphasized the religious nature of it to appeal to Protestant sensibilities.

The Advent wreath, or Advent crown, is a Christian tradition that symbolizes the passage of the four weeks of Advent in the liturgical calendar of the Western church. The Advent Wreath is traditionally a Lutheran practice, although it has spread to many other Christian denominations.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advent_wreath

I think you need to check your sources. :slight_smile: The Lutheran reformers never abandoned Christmas, nor the Church calendar for that matter. To the extent that it is a Catholic holy-day, you have our gratitude.

Merry Christmas

Jon

I stand corrected. Historically I was not aware that Christmas was not celebrated by some Protestants.

Yes, but they tended to be the more Calvinistic and Reformed varieties of Protestantism. And I should stress, it was not per se the religious observance that was the issue. It was the festivities and pagan undertones of the season that concerned many Protestants.

Lutherans, Episcopalians, and the Dutch Reformed have always celebrated Christmas. It just hasn’t always been as commercialized as it is now.

It appears the transition to the Christmas celebration has been solid among all Protestant Christians today, right?

I’m a moderator of a fairly good sized message board and the subject of Christmas (and Easter) comes up quite a bit. There are some more fundamental protestants, and some protestants gravitating to the Hebrew roots movement, who reject Christmas celebrations and traditions as pagan in origin.

I can’t say that absolutely all Protestants celebrate Christmas. However, I can say that in South Carolina, I haven’t met any Protestant that didn’t celebrate Christmas. Pretty much all mainline and evangelical Protestants celebrate it. It’s pretty much standard for all the churches I’ve been involved in to put on Christmas plays, have fellowship dinners, and some sort of gift giving for children.

Coming from an evangelical background, most churches put more energy into observing Christmas than they do during the Easter season.

There are marginal Christian groups like the Jehovah’s Witnesses that don’t celebrate Christmas. But I don’t consider them Protestants because their beliefs go far, far beyond any conceivable Protestant doctrinal consensus. :slight_smile:

I’m not so sure about the Dutch Reformed not having Christmas with Santa Claus, but then maybe I’m confusing the Dutch in America with the Dutch in Het Nederlands.

The Dutch in Holland practically invented Santa as Sinter Claas. All over the Nederlands they have parades with a man dressed as Sinter Class, dressed as a bishop, the real Saint Nicholas. This happens on St. Nicholas day December 6. Sinter Claas rides with Schwarzer Piet a man in black face who will take the bad children to Catholic Spain as punishment. You have to remember that in the 16th century the Netherlands had just won independence from Spain.
Not being racist at all with the word “schwatzer” that is just Dutch for black, their word, not mine.

Ok. I stand corrected. That reinforces the point I was making anyway. :slight_smile:

Forgive me. i should have prefaced that the Lutherans did not object to Christmas, It comes from The Calvinists who are the root of American Protestantism. That is the root of my question. Why did these christians start celebrating it when before they rejected it.

“Root of American Protestantism” is an overstatement since the diversity that is American Protestantism does not branch out from a single root.

But the answer to your question is quite simply that Protestant fears of the pagan antecedents of the Christmas holiday and their strident opposition to unstructured time, leisure, and festivity characteristic of the Puritans in Cromwell’s day were severely diminished by the nineteenth century, paving the way for Christmas as we know it today.

I think you nailed it

Thought you might like Cranmer’s collect for Christmas Day:

Almighty God who hast given us thy only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and as at this time to be born of a pure Virgin; Grant that we being regenerate, and made they children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by thy Holy Spirit; through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Too late…both of you miscreants will be receiving a visit from Der Belsnickle. :eek:

[quote=ltwin] Quote:

Originally Posted by EvangelCatholic

It appears the transition to the Christmas celebration has been solid among all Protestant Christians today, right?

I can’t say that absolutely all Protestants celebrate Christmas. However, I can say that in South Carolina, I haven’t met any Protestant that didn’t celebrate Christmas. Pretty much all mainline and evangelical Protestants celebrate it. It’s pretty much standard for all the churches I’ve been involved in to put on Christmas plays, have fellowship dinners, and some sort of gift giving for children.

Coming from an evangelical background, most churches put more energy into observing Christmas than they do during the Easter season.

There are marginal Christian groups like the Jehovah’s Witnesses that don’t celebrate Christmas. But I don’t consider them Protestants because their beliefs go far, far beyond any conceivable Protestant doctrinal consensus.
[/quote]

I think the celebrations surrounding Ressurection Sunday are more internal to the church while Christmas time presents a greater opportunity to evangelize the broader population. In large part because of the global and secular celebrations which run concurrently

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Thanks for the info [including **AbideWithMe & Itwin]. Just curious, do most Protestants follow the Common Lectionary? lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/lections.php

SDAs don’t celebrate Christrmas as such (of course, you could argue that they aren’t Protestant).

I was really surprised to find out that the Advent wreath and the Christmas tree are both Protestant traditions at their origin (apparently some Catholics would be opposed to having a Christmas tree because of its origin, and displayed a nativity scene instead).

I cannot stand that christmas is so important to my family and friends. They keep calling me a Jehovah’s witness because I think we should not celebrate it. You should have heard them when I suggest that we read all the gospels; they told me that it was a celebration of his birth so reading even one whole gospel was a weird suggestion. Trying to salvage the situation I said why not read Mark it is the shortest they didn’t go for it they said the birth was not even in Mark.

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