Christmasology: The First American Christmas, 1622?

The Puritans and Quakers did not celebrate Christmas, objecting to its secularization and that December 25 was not the birth date of the Messiah anyway. The New Company which arrived on the ship Fortune were “adventurers,” and not religious pilgrims. There is no Santa Claus here yet.

On the day called Christmas day, the Governor called them out to work as was used, but most of this new company excused themselves, and said it went against their conscience to work on that day. So the Governor told them that if they made it a matter of conscience, he would spare them until they were better informed; so he led away the rest and left them But when they came home at noon from their work, he found them in the street at play, openly, some pitching the bar, and some at stool-ball and such like sport. So he went to them and took away their implements and told them that it was against his conscience that they should play while others worked. If they made the keeping of it a matter of devotion, let them keep their houses, but there should be no gaming or reveling in the streets. Since which time nothing hath been attempted that way, at least openly.

William Bradford Of Plymouth Plantation

From The American Tradition in Literature, p. 28

That Christmas is to spread the Christmas spirit through the less religious elements of the community, even and especially to children who won’t yet see the things in the gospels, is interesting in light of its non-Puritan origin or first instance on the American continent. Stool ball is a game like the English game cricket, an ancestor of baseball, and so, by divine coincidence, the first American Christmas may have included baseball.