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Word Count: 559
In The Battle for Christmas Stephen Nissenbaum traces how Christmas came to be celebrated and how Christmas has evolved and been made popular in America The Puritans in fact outlawed Christmas which was celebrated much differently in the nineteenth century than it is today New England as well as many states did not grant legal recognition to Christmas until the middle of the nineteenth century arguing that Christs birth was not on December 25th Christmas was set at December 25 in the fourth century not for any biblical link with Christs birth but because the church hoped to annex and Christianize the existing midwinter pagan feast This season was based on the seasonal agricultural plenty with the years food supply newly in store and nothing to do in the fields In pre-Christian and even post-Christian agricultural societies late December was a time of leisure and bountiful food The harvest was in meat was fresh and beer was in surplus After a period of hard work the Christmas season was a time to relax and unwind in other words to party Nissenbaum says It was a time of heavy drinking when the rules that governed peoples public behavior were momentarily abandoned in favor of an unrestrained carnival a kind of December Mardi Gras Nissenbaum challenges many modern day conceptions of where this holiday came from and what it meant Nissenbaum confirms that as most of us understand the date of Jesus birth is found nowhere in the Bible and was chosen by the Church in an effort to co-opt pagan holidays that were traditionally held at the end of the year to coincide with the winter solstice With urbanization and industrialization that kind of behavior became more ominous and wealthy honest citizens were scared In the course of a few decades Christmas was turned into a family holiday taking place indoors within the secure limits of the family circle Whereas once landowners gave food and
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