Steven S. Drachman: The Pilgrims and their War on Christmas

CHRISTMAS GREETINGS: Here’s a Christmas story, about the Pilgrims and that endless “War on Christmas.”  I’ll tell it as quickly as I can; it actually has a nice message, if you make it to the very end.

The War on Christmas

Year after year, we hear and read about this terrible “War on Christmas,” allegedly perpetrated by the American liberals and their traitorous allies in the media. The whole idea began with Henry Ford, who called it “the Jewish War on Christmas.” The current Christmas warriors (on Fox News and conservative radio) have dropped “Jewish” from the name of the crusade, but I can sort of hear them mutter it under their breath. (“Move to Israel,” Bill O’Reilly once suggested.)

The counter-revolutionaries’ premise is that this country was founded, from its Plymouth Rock beginnings,  on Christian values, and that Christmas celebrations were an essential part of Pilgrim/Puritan practice.

The former premise is basically correct, as far as it goes – the Pilgrims did come here in part to observe their particular brand of Christianity.

But the latter premise, that Christmas was an inherent part of that practice, is as incorrect as you can get.

Governor Bradford’s View

Many years ago, my mother showed me our family tree, which confirmed that an ancestor, on her father’s side, had arrived here on the Mayflower. Some time later, unable to find the document, she confirmed to me that the ancestor in this country was a man named William Bradford. She has since passed away, and the document has never turned up. So believe what you will; as for me, I believe her.

Bradford’s wife mysteriously fell off the Mayflower without anyone noticing, and she drowned.

Bradford himself eventually became the first governor of Massachusetts.

One of his first legislative (dictatorial?) acts was to ban Christmas.

He believed, first, that December 25 was not actually the birthday of Christ his Lord, and that lying was a sin, and that therefore celebrating Christmas was a celebration of lying.

He also believed it encouraged drunken hooliganism, which he also considered a sin.

He believed, thirdly, that the 25th truly marked a pagan holiday, and to celebrate a pagan holiday was a sin.

The First War on Christmas

The earliest American governor not only banned Christmas on the 25th, he declared Christmas “a Sacrilege” and the “exchanging of Gifts and Greetings” a “Satanic Practice” (see official announcement, left), he banned Christmas singing and merrymaking and forced everyone to work in the fields on what might have been the coldest day of the year.

I don’t agree with most of this. If you don’t know when someone’s birthday is, you should celebrate it anyway! And I’m in favor drunken hooliganism, up to a point. I’m opposed to lying, but celebrating someone’s birthday on the wrong day isn’t exactly a lie.

The Ban is Lifted!

Somewhere along the way, some of his descendants wound up Jews, and here I am.

Every year on the 25th of December, in honor of my earliest American-Christian ancestor, I don’t celebrate Christmas.

But I wish a joyful one to all of you who do, and as Gov. Bradford’s rightful heir, I hereby rescind his prohibition on December 25th merrymaking (go ahead and drink your nog), and I furthermore waive your obligation to work in the fields.

You’re welcome.

Merry Christmas, and a very Happy and Festive, Healthy and Prosperous New Year to you all. And Happy Holidays, if you prefer.


Parts of this article have appeared on Steven S. Drachman’s blog in a different form. Drachman is the author of Watt O’Hugh and the Innocent Dead, which is available in trade paperback from your favorite local independent bookstore, from Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and on Kindle.

Illustration,  “The Puritan Governor interrupting the Christmas Sports” by Howard Pyle (1883).