Just to make sure that America's conservative, Christian kids know that there is a War on Christmas, Mike Huckabee has just released the newest video in his collection of "history" DVD's for kids. The series, which allows young folks to learn the real history of this country, features a group of cartoon kids who travel back in time. In visiting the 70's, they learn that knife wielding African-American thugs, wearing "Disco" shirts, overran the country before St. Ronald Reagan restored law & order. Other DVD's teach that America is a "Christian Nation" and that George Bush captured OBL. The latest is something that Christmas warrior Bill O'Reilly would approve of - real historians, not so much.
The promotional video opens with the graphic, "a holiday 2,000 years in the making" followed by the more ominous "but each year Christmas comes under siege." In keeping with the right wing narrative of angry atheists trying to destroy Baby Jesus' birthday, the video segues into a scene of angry protesters in front of a manger scene. One of the protesters has, OMG, a sign that says "keep church and state separate." Another has OMG a sign that says "away with the manger." After a roman-collared clergyman says that the town is "trying to tear down the Nativity Scene," the graphic makes the totally bogus claim that "this threat dates back centuries." Reality Check - the disputes over crèches on public land go back to the mid-eighties.
In the next scene, the viewer learns that Oliver Cromwell "cancelled Christmas" when "he took over England in 1645." The video shows a cartoon Cromwell soldier demanding that "by the order of King James, this church shall be shut down."
Reality Check - according to the Oliver Cromwell Association, this is a myth and the prohibition was approved with "broader Godly or parliamentary party, working through and within the elected parliament, which in the 1640s clamped down on the celebration of Christmas and other saints’ and holy days, a prohibition which remained in force on paper and more fitfully in practice until the Restoration of 1660." The Cromwell forces fought against King Charles who, in 1645, was powerless. King James I died in 1625, his son, King Charles I was executed, by Cromwell's opposition, in 1649. So not only was there no King James in 1645, but if King Charles had any authority at the time, Cromwell's people wouldn't have acted on it.
A cartoon woman tells the kids that she's "worried that the spirit of Christmas is dying."
Flash forward to colonial America during which time, as the visual tells us, "America's Founders knew that celebration and worship were worth the fight." George Washington, in 1776 Trenton, tells us that "we are fighting now so that we have the right to celebrate and worship as we want..." Benjamin Franklin tells us that "worship shall not be restricted." A search of Google did not yield either quote. Some other colonial guy talks about the "founding ideas of equality and the Christmas spirit" which is pretty funny considering that slavery was quite accepted in those days. Lincoln says that "it should be a national holiday."
Of course, real history tells us that the Puritans did not celebrate Christmas and "after the American Revolution, English customs fell out of favor, including Christmas. In fact, Christmas wasn't declared a federal holiday until June 26, 1870."
And the Fox right wingers say that Islamic indoctrination is a problem?! Anyway, get your DVD now while supplies last.
The version of the myth I always heard was that it was banned from 1659-1881. Something about a coup in 1653, and that he deemed the holiday “Too British” and “A foppish celebration.”
This ranks up there with the myth that George Washington was anti-Christmas, but at least the load on Washington has more capacity to be just an embellishment, should there be any truth there. Cromwell’s story falls apart at that no one seems to agree on the years the so-called prohibition was active.