This short pamphlet, published in 1836, teaches about the Christian principles that underpin Christmas – and criticises several aspects of the current, popular celebrations. Primarily, the author laments the ‘wickedness’, ‘the mirth of inconsideration and of folly’, and the ‘looseness of conduct and drunkenness’ that occurs during the holiday. ‘Is this then the sort of mirth proper for Christmas?’, they ask, before arguing that ‘he that gets drunk at Christmas, which is the season for commemorating the birth of Christ, insults Christ and his religion’.
This particular kind of text is known as a ‘tract’: a small, typically cheap pamphlet on a religious or political topic that is marked by a distinctly instructional or doctrinal tone.
Who was it written and published by?
It was published by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, whose emblem is printed centrally on the title-page. The Society was founded in 1698 by Thomas Bray and others, united in an aim to promote Christian teachings through publishing and circulating religious literature. In the 18th century, the Society was one of the largest publishers of Christian literature in Britain. Alongside this, the Society established charity schools.
Although the author is not named, the title-page reveals that it is ‘from the Cheap Repository Tracts’, suggesting that the author is Hannah More or one of her series collaborators.
- Article by:
- Judith Flanders
- Popular culture, The middle classes
Judith Flanders describes how many of our own Christmas traditions – from trees and crackers to cards and carols – have their origins in 19th-century industrial and commercial interests.