Christmas after the Protestant Reformation

By Peterson, Daniel; Hamblin, Bill | Deseret News (Salt Lake City), December 20, 2017 | Go to article overview

Christmas after the Protestant Reformation


Peterson, Daniel, Hamblin, Bill, Deseret News (Salt Lake City)


Editor's note: This year marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, and this is one in a series of columns to describe the origins, nature and impact of the events and personalities of the Reformation. Previous articles are online at deseretnews.com/faith.

The English word “Christmas” — “Christ’s mass” — reveals the holiday’s Catholic origin. With the coming of the Protestant Reformation, though, many Catholic practices and traditions were rejected or at least abandoned.

How did Christmas survive the Protestant purge? In some places, it nearly didn’t.

At first, it faced relatively few challenges in England. When the Anglican Church split with Rome over Henry VIII’s marital issues (see "The Anglican Church, England's unique Reformation" published Oct. 27 on deseretnews.com), it remained relatively Catholic — retaining not only priests, bishops, archbishops and cathedrals but choral music and feast days. Consequently, many of our Christmas traditions and much of our Christmas music today is English.

On the European continent, though, the survival of Christmas was more precarious.

In John Calvin’s Geneva and Ulrich Zwingli’s Zurich, only Sundays were observed as days of worship; the other feast days and saints’ days ordained by Rome were abolished. And Calvin’s disciple John Knox, who founded the Presbyterian movement in Scotland, followed the same path (see "John Knox and the Scottish Reformation" published June 25, 2016, on deseretnews.com).

When he launched his series of scripture-centered sermons in Zurich’s Grossmunster church in 1519, Zwingli — arguably the most radical of the three great Reformers — simply began with Matthew and preached through the whole book, ignoring the Catholic liturgical calendar and its festivals and holidays (see "The third man of the Reformation," published Oct. 13, deseretnews.com).

Calvin’s approach was slightly more moderate (see "The Protestant Reformation's other great writer" published Sept. 15, 2017, on deseretnews.com). In a sermon delivered on Christmas Day 1551, Calvin noticed more people than usual in his congregation, so he warned them that, by elevating Christmas above other days for worship, they risked turning it into an idol. Still, he himself may have observed Christmas privately, at home.

In 1647, the English Parliament, dominated by Puritans, went beyond Calvin and altogether banned the festival. William Prynne (d. 1669), for example, taught that “all pious Christians” should “eternally abominate” observance of the holiday. According to the 1646 Westminster Confession of Faith, “The acceptable way of worshiping the true God is instituted by himself, and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be worshiped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scripture. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Christmas after the Protestant Reformation
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.