After the defeat of Charles I and the English Civil War in the 1640s, Oliver Cromwell ruled as Lord Protector over what was termed the Commonwealth. Cromwell was a puritan, which was a strict Christian movement, and which sought to rid Britain of activities deemed immoral, sinful, corruptible or non-Christian.
The puritans saw Christmas as a Roman Catholic celebration with no relevance to the bible. In fact, they deemed it as an immoral festival that enticed debauchery and excessive drinking, and Cromwell set about banning all activities relating to Christmas.
Parliament banned Christmas, together with celebrations for Easter and Whitsun (Pentecost). This involved a ban on anything associated with Christmas celebrations, including mince pies and plum pudding. Soldiers even roamed the streets seizing food by force if they believed it be associated with a Christmas feast. Church services were banned on Christmas day, and ministers who ignored this were taken into custody.
Ordinary folk protested at these new laws, particularly when they were forced to keep their shops open on Christmas day. Shopkeeper who refused to open their premises could have been sent to the stocks. Locals were angry at this, and riots took place against the government legislation regarding Christmas in Canterbury, Norwich and Ipswich.
Christmas continued to be celebrated, albeit in secret, and King Charles II reinstated Christmas once more on his restoration in 1660.