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The Stations of the SunA History of the Ritual Year in Britain$
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Ronald Hutton

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780198205708

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198205708.001.0001

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The Trials of Christmas

The Trials of Christmas

(p.25) 3 The Trials of Christmas
The Stations of the Sun

Ronald Hutton

Oxford University Press

Europe's Reformations made a particular point of attacking the cult of saints as divine intercessors. Thus it is not surprising that during the most radical of the Tudor Reformations, under Edward VI, the Parliament of England retained the holy days of Christmas, Circumcision (New Year), and Epiphany, in Christ's honour, that of St John the Evangelist, and also those of St Stephen and the Holy Innocents, both of which could be held to have scriptural warrant. The traditional structure of the Twelve Days was thus preserved, and this was confirmed by the Reformation of Elizabeth 1559–60. Until this point, observation of Christmastide had been almost identical for England and Scotland. The practices of the two nations dramatically diverged because the Scots chose to make a clean break with tradition and also with foreign example, to produce a national Kirk that was in this respect the most ‘perfectly reformed’ in Europe.

Keywords:   Europe, Reformations, Tudor, Christmas, England, Parliament, Twelve Days, Scotland, Kirk

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