The 12th Day of Christmas: More Quotes from the 17th to 19th Century on Christmas

“I would to God that every holy day (including Christmas – ed.) whatsoever besides the Lord’s day were abolished. That zeal which brought them first in, was without all warrant of the Word, and merely followed corrupt reason, forsooth to drive out the holy days of the pagans, as one nail drives out another. Those holy days have been so tainted with superstitions that I wonder we tremble not at their very names.” – Martin Bucer, cited in William Ames, A Fresh Suit Against Human Ceremonies in God’s Worship (1633), pp. 359-60.

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“And next in particular, concerning festival days findeth that in the explication of the first head of the first book of discipline it was thought good that the feasts of Christmas, Circumcision, Epiphany, with the feasts of the Apostles, Martyrs, and Virgin Mary be utterly abolished because they are neither commanded nor warranted by Scripture and that such as observe them be punished by Civil Magistrates. Here utter abolition is craved and not reformation of abuses only and that because the observation of such feasts have no warrant from the word of God.” – The Acts of the General Assemblies of the Church of Scotland, December 10, Session 17, 1638, pp. 37-38

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Q. Is there any other day holy besides this day [i.e., the Lord’s day]?

A. No day but this is holy by institution of the Lord; yet days of humiliation and thanksgiving may be lawfully set apart by men on a call of providence; but popish holidays are not warrantable, nor to be observed; Gal. 4:10. Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.-John Flavel (Nonconformist minister, Dartmouth, England), An Exposition of the Assembly’s Shorter Catechism (1692).

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Q. 3. May not the Popish holy-days be observed?

A. The Popish holy-days ought not to be observed, because they are not appointed in the Word; and, by the same reason, no other holy-days may be kept, whatsoever pretence there be of devotion towards God, when there is no precept or example for such practice in the holy scripture.-Thomas Vincent (Nonconformist minister, London), An Explicatory Catechism: or, An Explanation of the Assembly’s Catechism (1708).

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Q. May the church appoint holy days, to remember Christ’s birth, death, temptation, ascension, &c.?

A. No; as God hath abolished the Jewish holy days of his own appointment, so he hath given no warrant to the church to appoint any: but hath commanded us to labour six days, except when Providence calls us to humiliation or thanksgiving; and expressly forbids us to observe holy days of men’s appointment, Col. 2:16; Gal. 4:10,11.

Q. What is the difference between a fast day and a holy day?

A. The day of a fast is changeable, and esteemed no better in itself than another day; but a holy day is fixed to a certain time of the week, year, or moon, and reckoned better in itself.-John Brown, of Haddington (minister and professor, Associate [Presbyterian] Burgher Synod), An Essay Towards an Easy, Plain, Practical, and Extensive Explication of the Assembly’s Shorter Catechism (1758).

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“Christmas was accurately depicted (by the Puritans – ed.) by such names as the Profane Man’s Ranting Day, the Superstitious Man’s Idol Day, the Papist’s Massing Day, the Old Heathen’s Feasting Day, the Multitude’s Idle Day, and Satan – that Adversary’s – Working Day.” – X-Mas: The Biggest Pagan Holiday/Holyday of the Year by Dr. Scott Johnson

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“Christmas. This is the name of the day on which is wont to be celebrated the idolatrous Romish sacrifice of the mass, in honor of the birth of Christ. As nearly as can be now ascertained, the day was first set apart for this purpose by the authority of the bishop at Rome, toward the close of the fourth century, or early in the fifth. … We do not acknowledge the authority of its appointment. If the religious observance of Christmas was divinely enjoined upon us, or if we had evidence in the writings of the apostles, that they observed it, or that they taught the churches which they established to do so, then we should feel ourselves obliged to observe the day. But as Protestants, we long ago abjured the authority of the Pope of Rome, and we still utterly repudiate his right to legislate for us, either over our consciences or our conduct. It was an essential principle of the Reformation, which we hold to have been sound, and the only principle which could have been safe, to reject every thing which appeared manifestly to be of human contrivance, and thus to carry the church back, both in its doctrines and its practices, to the incorrupt simplicity of the apostolic times.” – “Christmas,” from The Reformed Presbyterian magazine, January, 1851.

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“The Romish Church, in opposition to the word of God, has a great multiplicity of annually returning sacred seasons. The 25th day of December is one of those seasons; at which time, originally, a heathen festival was held. ‘This day was next baptized into a Romish mass for the birth of Christ.’ The truth is, the day of Christ’s nativity has been irrecoverably lost. Had this date been designed for special religious veneration, its date would have been preserved in the Holy Record, and a divine command given for its proper observance. The absence both of the date and command, makes it as clear to us as a sunbeam, that the natal day of our Saviour, even were it known, should not be honored by any religious observance whatsoever.” – “Christmas,” from The Associate Presbyterian Magazine, February, 1879.

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“1. In the pure Apostolical times there was no Christ-mass day observed in the Church of God. We ought to keep to the primitive Pattern. That Book of Scripture which is called, The Acts of the Apostles, saith nothing of their keeping Christ’s Nativity as an Holy-day. The [Cent. 2.] Centuriators, and many others take notice that in the first Ages of the New-Testament Church, there were no stated Anniversary Holy-days among Christians. Easter was kept a long time before the Feast of the Nativity, and yet the Apostles never ordained that, as [Lib. 5. c. cap. 22.] Socrates (the most excellent of the Ancient Ecclesiastical Historians) does truly observe. Had there been the least hint of any such day observed in the primitive times, learned Vossius would have told the world of it. One [Voetius in Disput. de Nativ. Christi. p. 22.] saith of him, Si pergama dextra defendi possunt etiam hac defensa fuissent . But he acknowledges that the Feast of Christ’s Nativity was not kept in the first nor yet in the second Century. After Prelatical writers have said all they can say, Chemnitius [ Contra Conc. Trial. part. 4 de Festis. p. 262.] his words will be found true. Anniversarium diem Natalis Christi celebratum fuisse, apud vetustissimos nunquam legitur . The most Ancient writers speak not the least word concerning the celebration of Christ’s Birth-day.

2. The word Christ-mass is enough to cause such as are studious of reformation to dislike what shall be known by a name so superstitious. Why should Protestants own any thing which has the name of Mass in it? How unsuitable is it to join Christ and Mass together? i.e., Christ and Antichrist. But what Communion has light with Darkness, and what concord hath Christ with Belial? 2 Cor. 6:15. some of the Jesuits [So the Rhemists.] have advised that endeavours should be used to keep up their old terms and names, such as Priest, Altar, Christ-mass, Candlemass, and the like, hoping that by means thereof in time the things would follow the Names whereby their memory is preserved.”

– Increase Mather’s Testimony Against that Prophane and Superstitious Custom of Christ-mass Keeping.

If you are looking for more quotes, see “Appendix A: An Historical Examination of the Church’s Opposition to Christmas”