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Weird and wonderful laws still enforceable today #3

Weird and wonderful laws still enforceable today #3

Mince Pies at Christmas

During the Interregnum (the period between the execution of Charles I on 30 January 1649 and the arrival of his son Charles II in London on 29 May 1660) Oliver Cromwell saw fit to introduce a law banning Mince pies at Christmas.

It is unclear whether this was done to prevent gluttony or because the ingredients of mince pies and plum puddings were pagan in origin and the consumption was therefore deemed part of an ancient fertility ritual.

Along with maypoles, dancing in church, yule logs and decorating the home with holly and ivy.

And although Christmas 2020 is going to be a sad one for many, in 1642 a law was passed decreeing a fast on the last Wednesday of every month, even though the Christmas of 1644 fell on a Wednesday. Much like today in the UK, people were unclear whether they should fast or feast and so the Puritans passed a special law confirming they should FAST!

The aim was to observe a ‘more solemn humiliation, to call a remembrance of our sins and the sins of our forefathers, who have turned this feast into an extreme forgetfulness of Christ’.

They were concerned the enjoyment of Christmas tarnished the memory of Christ by ‘giving liberty to carnal and sensual delights contrary to the life he led on earth.’

For good measure the Puritans abolished all other feast days too, but they did allow servants, scholars and apprentices the second Tuesday of every month off for recreation and relaxation.

Presumably, other members of society were not included because of Cromwell’s aim to abolish Aristocracy.

The Puritan’s war on Churches

And that’s not all! On the 26 August 1943, an Act was passed for the destruction of:

“all alters, communion tables, tapers, candlesticks, crucifixes, crosses, images and pictures of any one of more persons of the Trinity, including the Virgin Mary, all saints; all superstitious inscriptions in churches, chapels, places of public prayer and churchyards”.

They were to be destroyed and the ground where alters stood to be levelled plus stained-glass windows to be smashed.

The Puritans were so eager for this to happen they passed another law on the 9 May 1644 ordering the same thing again along with yet more destructions.

The aim was to ‘please God’ however all images of royalty, noblemen, and knights along with their coats of arms were allowed to stay.

Myths or facts?

The Law Society maintains that the laws passed during the Interregnum are not enforceable because Charles I had fallen out with Parliament so as he did not provide a King’s signature the laws were not given Royal Assent.

That said, in January 1649, Parliament abolished the office King meaning any laws it passed wouldn’t need Royal Assent but that Act also wasn’t signed by the King, so could again be considered unlawful!

Thus, it was decided via a Committee of the House of Commons it would be better not to try and confirm nor deny any of the mythical Acts still in place today as some had already had consequences that could not be undone!

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