Scotland Banned Christmas For 400 Years: Became A Public Holiday In 1958


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The war on Christmas didn't start with holiday coffee cups and the phrase "season's greetings." It goes back to at least 16th-century Scotland, when the country split with the Catholic Church. A radical version of Presbyterian Protestantism whipped the country into a frenzy, and the denunciation of all things papal included churches, statues, and traditions like Christmas.

Scotland's Christmas Ban

In 1560, a small but highly influential group of Protestants pushed reform through the Scottish Church, rejecting papal jurisdiction and adopting new beliefs. The newly Calvinist-infused Church of Scotland supported the notion that contemporary Christmas celebrations were too extravagant to be Christlike, so they outlawed the holiday completely. It took a few years to phase out celebrations entirely, but yuletide ended for good in 1583.

As difficult as it seems, the Church of Scotland cracked down hard on Christmas. People were jailed for celebrating the holiday, but even the baking of Yule bread and Christmas divination customs like cracking an egg into a cup to determine the profession of one's future partner and reading fireplace ashes like tea leaves became controversial, being far too pagan for the Church of Scotland. Modern Scots still celebrate their pagan roots by burning a twig of the rowan tree at Christmas to ward away bad feelings, but they had a long way to go.