In the mid-17th century, a wave of religious reform transformed the way in which Christmas was celebrated in England. Oliver Cromwell — a statesman and General responsible for leading the parliamentary army during the English Civil War — took over England in 1645. Supported by his Puritan forces, Cromwell believed it was his mission to cleanse the country of decadence.
In 1644 he enforced an Act of Parliament banning Christmas celebrations. Christmas was regarded by the Puritans as a wasteful festival that threatened core Christian beliefs. Consequently, all activities relating to Christmas, including attending mass, were forbidden. Not surprisingly, the ban was hugely unpopular and many people continued to celebrate Christmas secretly.
The Puritan War on Christmas lasted until 1660. Under the Commonwealth, mince pies, holly and other popular customs fell victim to the spirited Puritan attempt to eradicate every last remnant of merrymaking during the Christmas period.
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