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Closed for Christmas: The Ghost of Christmas Past

The media frenzy over the decision of megachurches throughout the country to close their doors on Christmas day doesn't seem to be dying down, and numerous articles are framing the action as unprecedented. But is that accurate? Although likely unaware of it, megachurches such as Willow Creek and Mars Hill may actually be more in line with church tradition by not conducting worship services on December 25th than those who choose to keep their doors open.

Few seem to remember that America's Puritan ancestors were stridently opposed to the celebration of Christmas. They saw no biblical support for the holiday, and believed the festival was a pagan ritual masquerading as Christian. Even as late as 1855, newspapers in New York reported that Methodist, Baptist, and Presbyterian churches would be closed on Christmas Day because "they do not accept the day as a Holy One."

The Puritan distain for Christmas had such a hold on American culture that by the 1860s only 18 states officially recognized ...

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