Histories of the English Christmas tend to downplay the role of religion in the development of the modern festival. This article examines the place of religion in the popular celebration of Christmas, as well as the provision of worship offered by the Protestant Churches during the festive season. It argues that although some churchmen viewed Christmas pessimistically as part of a broader battle between sacred and secular, the Churches played an important role in the expansion of the urban public culture of Christmas in the late nineteenth century, whilst the doctrine of the incarnation provided a religious framework for the celebration of childhood and domesticity that the festival had come to embody.
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