Women Will Have Their Will or Give Christmas His Due

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During the rule of the Puritan republic of the 1640s and 1650s, the observance of Christmas was banned. This proved very unpopular and hard to enforce; riots and disobedience were common. A subversive print war was waged by Christmas supporters with some authors earnestly arguing for the holiday using religious and historical examples while others, probably more effective, were satirical. The tract Women Will Have Their Will or Give Christmas His Due, which appeared in December 1648, seems to have been aimed particularly at a female audience. It contains a dialogue between ‘Mistress Custom’, a victualler’s wife in Cripplegate and ‘Mistress New-Come’ an army captain’s wife living in Reformation Alley near Destruction Street’.

New-Come finds Custom decorating her house for Christmas and they fall into a discussion about the feast. Custom exclaims that:
I should rather and sooner forget my mother that bare me and the paps that gave me suck, than forget this merry time, nay if thou had’st ever seen the mirth and jollity that we have had at those times when – was young, thou wouldst bless thyself to see it.She claims that those who want to destroy Christmas are:
A crew of Tatter-demallions amongst which the best could scarce ever attain to a calves-skin suit, or a piece of neckbeef and carrots on a Sunday, or scarce ever mounted (before these times) to any office above the degree of scavenger of Tithingman at the furthest.

When New-Come suggests she should abandon her celebrations because they have been banned by the authority of Parliament, she replies:
God deliver me from such authority; it is a Worse Authority than my husband’s, for though my husband beats me now and then, yet he gives my belly full and allows me money in my purse Cannot keep Christmas, eat good cheer and be merry without I go and get a licence from the Parliament. Marry gap, come up here, for my part I’ll be hanged by the neck first.

The turmoil continued until 1660 when Christmas celebrations were restored along with the return of the Stuart monarchy of Charles II.

2 thoughts on “Women Will Have Their Will or Give Christmas His Due

  1. Bob says:

    A couple of things….

    First, I’ve never read a better argument in favor of the monarchy.

    Second, this seems very much like a contemporary discussion between a traditionalist and a member of the cancel culture.

    And, third and finally, imagine how barren and bleak our world would be if the ‘reformers’ had won!

  2. gerryadmin says:

    True dat. I give the Puritans full marks for zeal and their opposition to bull-baiting and bear-baiting but their rants against Christmas and the theatre leave me cold.

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