Reflected below is a full transcript of an 1836 newspaper article regarding the history of Christmas and their reasons for thinking it should not be celebrated. Click here to see original article in column three.
December 28, 1836 Vermont Telegraph – Christmas
The word Christmas is composed of the two words, Christ and Mass, and was first employed to denote the religious service made use of in the Roman Catholic church, in celebrating our Savior’s birth; nor is it improbable, that this very term has increased, if it did not originate the strong dislike, which some Protestants have always entertained and expressed against the performance of any religious service on the day called Christmas.
There seems to be no probability that the great event which Christmas commemorates, happened on the 25th of December; and it is wonderful that Pope Julius, by whom that day was fixed for religious observance, should have decided as he did. Two events, coincident with the incarnation of our Redeemer, are fully known – the resort of the Jews, from the most distance parts of Judea, to the city or place where they were born, that they might be enrolled and taxed – and the watching of their flocks by night, of the shepherds, in the vicinity of Bethlehem. Now, it is very improbable that the season of the year, the most unfavorable of all for traveling, should have been assigned for the universal attendance of the Jews at the various places of enrolment: and it is still more improbable, that in a climate not very different from that of the southern part of the United States,* shepherds should be “keeping watch over their flocks by night,” on the 25th of December – encamped as they clearly were, in the open fields. Those who have investigated the subject most carefully have placed our Lord’s nativity somewhere between the middle of August, and the middle of November; and the best and prevalent opinion is that it happened in the latter part of September, or in the early part of October.
We have no evidence that Christmas was ever observed as a religious festival till toward the end of the second century of the Christian era, under the Roman emperor Commodus. The observance of it, however, soon became general, and continued so till the time of the Protestant reformation. Neither, indeed, was its observance proscribed or discountenanced by the reformers, otherwise than that this might seem to be implied in the great Protestant principle that the Scriptures alone contain the laws and institutions which are binding on conscience and obligatory on the church, and that in the Scriptures, there is certainly no command, nor any recorded usage of the primitive church, in favor of the observance of Christmas. The Protestant churches, nevertheless, both Lutheran and Calvinistic, have, in fact, generally observed the day not only as a season of social festivity, but by the performance of some religious service, commemorative of the birth of Christ. It is believed that the Scotch church and the English puritans, with their descendants, stand alone, among all the reformed churches whose origin is ? with the reformation, in their refusal to celebrate Christmas in a religious manner – esteeming such a celebration as a departure from the fundamental principle of Protestantism, already mentioned and viewing in as dangerous to make any observance habitual, without a clear scriptural warrant; or to act as if any other day than the Sabbath could lawfully be regarded as sacred. We are now prepared to make the following summary statement.