Which famous Reformed Theologian wrote this regarding Christmas in 1551: “Before I ever entered Geneva, there were no festivals but the Lord’s day...Since my recall, I have pursued the moderate course of keeping Christ’s birth-day as you are wont to do”?
Who is John Calvin?
Calvin gained a reputation for wanting to abolish the celebration of Christmas, but this is an inaccurate portrayal of his position. This move of the reformer was prompted by the disastrous consequences of the late medieval practice of holy days and festivals. These were days devoted to all sorts of patron saints and holy persons. At each of these days the inhabitants of a city were expected to go to church, visit the mass, say prayers in a chapel, participate in a procession, and so on. That took half the day, and not infrequently the whole day. For all days of leisure, there was an enormous loss of labor and productivity. It has been calculated that up to 50% of the workdays got lost in this way in medieval Europe.
Calvin, and the other reformers, abolished nearly all these holy days and holidays. And in case you are inclined to think that this suggests a liaison between calvinism and capitalism, remember that poverty was a real social problem. That problem was, besides the idolatry involved in the veneration of all these saints, Calvin’s chief motivation for doing what he did. Sundays were the days of rest; the other days the days of doing what God calls you to do!