Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Bruce Forbes

Bruce Forbes's books include Christmas: A Candid History, co-editor of Rapture, Revelation, and the End Times, and co-editor of Religion and Popular Culture in America. From his 2016 Q&A with Patt Morrison for the Los Angeles Times:

In the Western world, in the Christian Western world, how was Christmas marked for a thousand, 1,500 years?

It was mainly an adult activity and it would be a midnight Mass — which, by the way, is how we get the term “Christmas.” It really means “Christ’s Mass.” And partying, maybe in the neighborhood tavern or in the home. That is Christmas for a long, long time.

The family-centered Christmas is really something that’s fairly recent. We talk about the Victorian Christmas — we’re talking about the 1800s, when that kind of Christmas we know now arose.

There were people who were Christians and believers who thought it was terrible to celebrate Christmas.

The poor Puritans have a bad reputation in terms of being killjoys and not allowing anyone to be happy. I think that’s not fair. Puritanism starts in England, when the Church of England breaks off from the Catholic Church. It still maintained many Catholic features and Puritans were Calvinists who felt, now that we’ve done these changes, we should get rid of a lot of those other things that are Catholic additions that are not really Christian.

And in the Puritan revolution in England, they sometimes even had town criers going around on Christmas Eve saying, “No Christmas”! No Christmas!” That carried over into the United States with almost all of the English-speaking denominations from England who were not Church of England.

You probably by now roll your eyes when you hear the phrase “the war on Christmas.”

Yes, I do. First of all, it’s because I think a lot of it is built on this assumption that everyone always celebrated Christmas and somebody recently — whoever it is you don’t like — they’re to blame because they wrecked it. And I just don’t think that’s the case.

The idea that even the alternate phrases like “happy holidays “or “season’s greetings” — those are not new phrases. Those we can trace back a long, long way. The problem with the “war on Christmas,” in addition is...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue