1647. A year when Christmas was banned, lemons were sucked, and Father Christmas was born.

1647. A year when Christmas was banned, lemons were sucked, and Father Christmas was born.

We have been warned that this year, Christmas will be a little less joyful. Limitations will be placed on what we can do and who we can do it with. The newspapers and Social Media are talking about an unprecedented curtailing of Christmas, but it’s not unprecedented. In this short trip down memory lane, Peter Foy, tongue firmly in cheek, recalls a time when Christmas was banned.

In 1647 the UK parliament passed an Act that officially outlawed Christmas. With the sharp wit and sage wisdom for which they are famed, MPs declared, as a fact of law, that Christmas did not exist and the celebration of it was a punishable offence. Clearly, the governance of the UK in the 17th century was in the hands of people who were completely out of touch with popular sentiment.

1647. A year when Christmas was banned, lemons were sucked, and Father Christmas was born.It makes you realise how fortunate we are today.

So, what was happening in the mid-17th century that called for such drastic action? Well, it is a long story and has a lot to do with religion and Europe. It started with an Augustine monk who went trick or treating on Halloween 1517, it involved Henry VIII’s desire for a divorce, it culminated in a bloody civil war that saw the shortest king in England’s history being made even shorter and Britain becoming a republic. A republic that was ruled by a Christian group called Puritans. Who were the Puritans? They were to 17th century Britain what the Taliban are to modern Afghanistan. Someone once described a Puritan as:

A person who lives in mortal fear that someone, somewhere, might be enjoying themselves.

They believed that any outward demonstration of fun or joie de vivre meant that you were a papist and therefore destined for an eternity in Hell. These guys were the original killjoys. Indeed, if you look at a portrait of a Puritan family from this time, they all appear to be sucking on lemons. Smiling may not have been a sin, but smiles were a gateway to sin!

It wasn’t a surprise that they were not big fans of Christmas but remember this was the 17th century. There was no Black Friday or Cyber Monday; Christmas was a religious festival the main celebration was in church. True; folk would party, drink would be taken, and a few shapes thrown on the dance floor. Probably a few inhibitions would be lowered, all enough to outrage a Puritan.

1647. A year when Christmas was banned, lemons were sucked, and Father Christmas was born.So, they banned Christmas. They went so far as to send soldiers into church to disrupt communion services and insisted that shops and parliament be opened on Christmas day. Obviously, some people accepted these new rules and went along with the law but quite a few opposed them. There were illegal parties and a few shops were ransacked but mostly the British protested in the way we always protest. Folk began to mock the rules.

To give voice to this ridicule they needed a persona who, being fictional, was beyond the reach of the law. Enter Father Christmas. There is a wonderful pamphlet, from 1653, called A vindication of Christmas, lamenting the abolishment of Christmas by the Puritan government. In it is the cartoon below. The central figure of Father Christmas proclaims "O Sir, I bring good cheere" while the roundhead soldier warns him to "Keep out, you come not here." The yeoman Brit, on the other hand, is saying "Old Christmas welcome; Do not fear."

This pamphlet is one of the earliest references to Father Christmas I know of. And isn’t it interesting to note that 4 centuries ago, people were stronger than government?

Of course, Puritanism didn’t last, and the old order was soon restored. Charles II, the Merry Monarch, was crowned King; Christmas was put back into the calendar and all was well with fair Albion. Or at least it was until the plague came in 1665, London burnt to ashes in 1666 and the country saw the largest increase in STDs ever recorded. The Puritans would have said that was the inevitable judgement for using lemons to flavour gin and not to suck on them as a penance.


© Copyright Just Recruitment Group Ltd 2020

Published: 4 December 2020

If you enjoyed this article, you may like: Surprising jobs celebs did before they were famous (no. 4 is completely unexpected!)

You may also enjoy: Five ways to make your car ready for winter

Jobs currently available

New job
QA Manager
Sector: Engineering and Manufacturing
Salary: Discussed on application
Location: Saffron Walden
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 910873
About the role

Our client is seeking an experienced Quality Assurance Manager to join them on a permanent, full-time basis. This opportunity offers stability, longevity and professional development.

Reporting directly to the MD, the Quality Assurance Manager will be responsible for:

  • Maintaining and improving the Company's Quality Management System and ensure internal compliance
  • Working with all departments to ensure their procedures are being followed and to improve their internal and cross-functional processes and procedures
  • Ensure that the quality of current and newly introduced products is compliant and traceable
  • Coordinate Quality activities with all over departments
  • Develop and improve quality relationships with all customers of the Company
  • Responsible for all Quality activities and personnel in the Quality Department for the Company
  • Provide strong leadership in the day-to-day operations of the Quality department and mentor the members of the team
  • Establish performance goals for all departmental employees and monitor performance on a continual basis
  • Oversee all hiring, appraisal, training and discipline of Quality personnel
  • Member of the Company's Management team
  • Produce the Quality element of the company's annual Budget
  • Formulate the departmental strategy aligned to the overall Company strategy
  • Embed a Continuous Improvement culture within the Quality Dept and contribute to the Continuous Improvement programme across the site


  • HND or equivalent qualification in Engineering or a related technical field required
  • Minimum 5 years experience in a Manufacturing environment
  • Ability to articulate (verbally and in writing), defend and negotiate Quality expectations with internal and external customers at all levels of management
  • Good interpersonal skills with the ability to guide and educate/train at all levels
Read more
New job
Customer Service Administrator
Sector: Customer Service
Salary: £22,000 per annum
Location: Halstead
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 910871
About the role

Just Recruitment is delighted to be supporting a well-regarded organisation at the forefront of its sector that is looking to add a Customer Service Administrator to its team, due to growth – based on the outskirts of Halstead.

The main purpose of the role is to service current and prospective customers by receiving and processing orders, enquiries and general information in a timely and courteous manner.

Key tasks include:

  • Answering incoming calls, giving product information, lead times, dealing with general enquiries and queries, redirecting calls to relevant departments
  • Raising and inputting orders and proforma invoices
  • Raising quotations
  • Amending orders, as required
  • Scanning documentation
  • Liaising with Areas Sales Managers and responding to their requests
  • Arranging couriers and/or carriers as required
  • Any general office associated duties

Key requirements for the role:

  • Excellent computer skills
  • Good eye for detail
  • The ability to work well under pressure
  • Courteous

Previous experience requirements:

  • Previous Customer Service Administrative experience gained within an office environment
  • Excellent telephone manner with the ability to communicate at all levels
  • High level of attention to detail and accuracy
  • Good working knowledge of Microsoft Office and experience of in-house systems
  • Ability to multi-task and prioritise own workload
  • Exceptional communication skills, both written and verbal
  • Understanding of the importance of data protection and adherence to the process

Offering free parking and an excellent working environment, this is a great opportunity to join a growing team.

Working Monday to Friday 37.5 hours per week - offering a competitive salary and company benefits.

Read more
New job
Production Operative
Sector: Engineering and Manufacturing
Salary: £8.91 per hour
Location: Needham Market
Role: Full Time
Contract: Temporary
Job ref: 910811
About the role

Want to work in a safe, clean environment?
And have the possibility of ongoing work?

Just Recruitment is recruiting for a Temporary Production Operative to be based in Needham Market.

Duties include:

  • Ensure all final and completed products are packed to the customer specifications                               
  • Informing Line Leaders of defects found in the products
  • Keep machines supplied with packing materials and labels
  • Assist the Line Leaders with handovers and changeovers
  • Responsible for general cleanliness of the production area and removal of production and general waste
  • Check products on the line for quality and defects
  • Basic production duties carried out in a fast-paced environment

Working hours:

8.30am - 5.00pm Monday to Friday

Read more
New job
Logistics Coordinator
Sector: Transport, Logistics and Shipping
Salary: £24,000 per annum
Location: Ipswich
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 910869
About the role

Just Recruitment is delighted to be supporting, a well-regarded, family-run business on the outskirts of Ipswich.

You will be responsible for assisting with the loads out operation of the business by ensuring that the process from collection to arrival at the final destination is fully supported by the relevant goods in haulage documentation.

You will also be supporting the sales function of the business by dealing with customer queries in terms of both sales and operations as well as assisting with various ad-hoc marketing campaigns. This is a very varied role and requires flexibility, commitment and a substantial desire to learn and grow with the flourishing business.

Duties will include:

  • Process orders and oversees the order to completion of paperwork
  • Facilitate the shipping of products from one destination to another
  • Arrange transportation with outside hauliers
  • Receive paperwork from the Weighbridge department and check and complete the paperwork within the allocated time allowed
  • Answer calls and emails relating to customer queries and log them on the CRM system and resolve any outstanding issues raised
  • Keep CRM records up-to-date
  • Work with the sales and operations team to ensure that high customer service levels are achieved and delivered to all customers you are responsible for at all times

Skills required:

  • Good Microsoft skills including Word, Outlook & Excel
  • Ability to work proactively on an independent basis as well as be a good team player
  • You will have the interpersonal skills necessary to develop and sustain effective relationships with team members of other departments and with all customers
  • Good attention to detail and analytical skills
Read more