Mary of Plymouth - James Otis

On Christmas Day

On the morning of the first Christmas after our houses had been built, many of the men and boys, when called upon to go out to work for the common good, as had been the custom every week day during the year, declared that they did not believe it right to labor at the time when it was said Christ had been born. Whereupon Governor Bradford, after telling them that it was but a heathenish festival instead of really being the birthday of our Savior, announced that if it was against their consciences, he would leave them alone until they were better informed regarding the matter.

Then he, with those who were ready to obey the rules, went to their work; but on coming back at noon, he found those who did not believe it seemly to labor on Christmas day, at play in the street, some throwing bars, and others at stoolball. Without delay the governor seized the balls and the bars, carrying them into the fort, at the same time declaring that it was against his conscience for some to play while others worked. This, as you may suppose, brought the merrymaking to an end.

For my part I enjoyed the Christmas festivities as we held them at Scrooby, and cannot understand why, simply because certain heathen people turned the day into a time for play and rejoicing, we should not make merry after the custom of those in England.


Front Matter

Why This Story was Written
The Leaking Speedwell
Searching for a Home
After the Storm
Wash Day
Finding the Corn
Attacked by the Savages
Building Houses
Miles Standish
The Sick People
The New Home
Master White and the Wolf
Inside of the House
A Chimney Without Bricks
Building the Fire
Master Bradford's Chimney
Scarcity of Food
A Timely Gift
The First Savage Visitor
Squanto's Story
Living in the Wilderness
The Friendly Indians
Grinding the Corn
A Visit From Massasoit
Massasoit's Promise
Massasoit's Visit Returned
The Big House Burned
The Mayflower Leaves Port
Setting the Table
What and How we Eat
Table Rules
A Pilgrim Goes Abroad
Making a Dugout
Governor Carver's Death
Bradford Chosen Governor
Farming in Plymouth
Cooking Indian Corn
The Wedding
Making Maple Syrup
Decorating the House
Trapping Wolves and Pigeons
Elder Brewster
The Visit to Massasoit
Keeping the Sabbath Holy
Making Clapboards
Cooking Pumpkins
A New Oven
Making Spoons and Dishes
The Fort and Meeting-House
The Harvest Festival
How to Play Stoolball
On Christmas Day
When the Fortune Arrived
Possibility of Another Famine
On Short Allowance
A Threatening Message
Pine Knots and Candles
Tallow From Bushes
Wicks for the Candle
Dipping the Candles
When James Runs Away
Evil-Minded Indians
Long Hours of Preaching
John Alden's Tubs
English Visitors
Visiting the Neighbors
Why More Fish are not Taken
How Wampum is Made
Ministering to Massasoit
The Plot Thwarted
The Captain's Indian
Ballots of Corn
Arrival of the Ann
Little James Comes to Port
The New Meeting-House
The Church Service
The Tithingmen
Master Winslow Brings Cows
A Real Oven
Butter and Cheese
Settlement at Wessagussett
The Village at Merrymount
The First School
Too Much Smoke
Schools Comforts
How Children Were Punished
New Villages
Making Ready for a Journey
Clothing for Salem
Food for the Journey
Before Sailing for Salem
Beginning the Journey
The Arrival at Salem
Sight-Seeking in Salem
Back to Plymouth