"culturally and legally suppressed and thus, virtually non-existent. The Puritan community found no Scriptural justification for celebrating Christmas, and associated such celebrations with paganism and idolatry." (Wikipedia)All that began to change around the middle of the 19th century, when a radical transformation of Christmas began.
Unitarians were at the forefront in most of the transforming. Christmas! It’s OUR holiday.
What do you mean?
Unitarians made this season what it is. Consider: what does Christmas mean?
It means the mass of Christ, the celebration of the birth of a Palestinian prophet named Yeshua, or Jesus.
But what exactly does that mean?
Well, one thing it means is that we put a tree indoors, and we decorate it.
Right! It was a practice in Germany, brought to the United States in the early 1800s by the Unitarian minister Reverend Charles Follen.
Christmas means dashing through the snow, one-horse open sleighs. It means bells that jingle, and it means laughing, all the way.
OK. That’s the song “Jingle Bells,” by the James Pierpont. James Pierpont was a Unitarian.
Christmas means lots of other music, too. Like "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”
By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, a Unitarian.
“It Came Upon the Midnight Clear”
By Rev. Edmund Hamilton Sears, a Unitarian minister.
"Watchman Tell Us of the Night"
By John Bowring, a Unitarian.
"Do You Hear What I Hear?"
By Noel Regney, a Unitarian.
“Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.”
By Johnny Marks.
Let me guess – a Unitarian.
Actually, no, he was Jewish. I’m not saying we wrote ALL the Christmas songs.
Besides the songs, Christmas means Old Ebenezeer Scrooge’s heart opens up to compassion and joy.
Christmas also means a focus on ending war and violence. “Peace on Earth, to all goodwill.” That’s in the Gospel of Luke. You’re not going to tell me Luke was a Unitarian, are you?
This really is our holiday.
From the Christmas tree, to the jingling bells, to the Scrooge story, to the message of peace on earth, Unitarians made Christmas what it is today.