The Pilgrim Fathers celebrated Christmas by drinking beer
The chronicles of the Pilgrims, describing their arrival in Cape Cod Bay in December, 1620, refer thus briefly to the first Christmas spent by them in America:
“Monday, the 25th, being Christmas Day, we began to drink water aboard. But at night the master caused us to have some beer, and so on board we had divers times now and then some beer, but on shore none at all.”
What was done in Plymouth the next Christmas is more fully described in the quaint language of Governor Bradford:
“On ye day called Christmas-day, ye Govr. called them out to worke — as was used — but ye most of this new company excused themselves and said it went against their conscience to work on ye day. So ye Govr. told them that if they made it a matter of conscience, he would spare them until they were better informed.
“So he led away ye rest and left them, but when they came home at noon from their worke, he found them in ye streete at play, openly, some pitching ye barr, and some at stoole-ball, and such like sports.
“So he went to them and took away their implements, and told them that was against his conscience, that they should play and others work. If they made ye keeping of it matter of devotion, let them kepe their houses, but there should be no gaming or reveling in ye streets.”