AA per_(.)(.)_tive : Quakers / Christmas - AFM

Mary Calhoun moriah at preferred.com
Wed Dec 22 15:27:20 JEST 1999

per_(.)(.)_tive from the Administrative Assistant's inbox--

Quakers and Christmas

_(^)(^)_ the following seemed worth sharing...

(from Atlanta Friends Meeting Newsletter)

    "We all know how the New England Puritans celebrated the first
Thanksgiving (or at least we know the myth) but how many of us know how they
celebrated Christmas?  Well, of course, they didn't.  They were Puritans and
regarded it as a relic of 'Catholic Popery.'
    "Cromwell's Puritan Council outlawed Christmas in 1657 as did
Massachusetts and Connecticut two years later.  Other English Protestant
groups that immigrated to New England and the Northeast, including early
Quakers, did not take any special notice of religious holidays such as
Christmas either, and in fact were ardently opposed to it up until the early
1800s.  Many felt that it was too much of a vestige of the old European
pagan holidays, and others expressed their conviction that every day is holy
and no one day should be singled out as special.
    "Friends Schools and businesses stayed open on Christmas, but then, so
did many other businesses and public activities.  It wasn't until the late
nineteenth century that Christmas began to become the overwhelming religious
and social event that it is now.  Today, some Friends churches and meetings
have special observances and some don't.  Practices vary widely.
    "Modern Friends seem to have ambivalent feelings about what to do or not
do at Christmas time, and wonder how to explain or justify their choices.
Many of us want to uphold the tradition of Quaker simplicity and the ideal
that every day is as holy as another, but at the same time we are drawn by
the opportunity to be with friends and family in special ways.  Some enjoy
making the most of it, and others try to escape from it.  We all have
serious reservations about the commercialization of Christmas, and try not
to be caught up in the frenzy of spending and partying and forced displays
of joy and gladness.  There seems to be a wide variety of religious beliefs
practices...and it would be interesting to know how others feel."

Editor's note:  here the writer outlines a sharing project to collect
thoughts, opinions, and families' practices within the Atlanta Friends
Meeting community.

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Mary Calhoun, AA

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