21 December 1991

Christmas spurned

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More than 300 years ago, under the Puritans of the Long Parliament, the celebration of Christmas was made illegal in Britain. In late November 1991, I went to the Highlands and Islands of northwest Scotland to talk with the heirs of the Puritan tradition who are fighting a rearguard battle against an overwhelming festival they regard as English, Roman and idolatrous. Published in The Independent Magazine, 21 December 1991.


Christmas would hardly be Christmas without the vicar railing against the secular excesses of the occasion. All over England, gentlemen of the cloth rise up to stress the true religious meaning of the festival and to distinguish it, with varying degrees of severity, from the God-forsaken binge that takes place in its name.

Objections take a very different form in Scotland, and especially in the Western Highlands and Islands, where Presbyterianism has its stronghold. Far from lamenting the way Christ has been taken out of Christmas, devout protesters here are outraged by the idea that the Son of God should ever have been dragged into this heathen ceremony in the first place…

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This entry was posted on Saturday, December 21st, 1991 at 12:00 pm and is filed under Articles General, Englishness and British national identity, Miscellaneous rigs of the time. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.