Calvin’s letter shows, he kept December-25 Christmas

Many people thought, Calvin was included in anti-December-25-Christmas group. In fact, Calvin’s letter dated on January 2, 1551 implies that Calvin kept Christmas, as people were wont to do (red-colored words). People in Calvin era kept Christmas on Desember 25. Then, clause “as you are wont to do” refers to December-25 Christmas.

Significance of this letter:

  • Material evidence that John Calvin was not included in anti-December-25-Christmas group.
  • Claim that Calvin was anti-December-25-Christmas is in opposition against evidence.


Geneva, 2nd January 1551.

I desire you, my dear Haller, not to measure my affection for you by my not writing to you and to our friend Musculus, of late, to lighten the domestic affliction under which you both labored. There is no need for my occupying many words in expressing how anxious I was about your danger, from the time that I heard of your houses being visited by the plague. But as this remembrance should not be more pleasing to kindhearted and considerate men than the duty of writing, I trust that when I inform you that my silence did not by any means arise from neglect, I shall fully satisfy you both. The reason why I did not write you is this: a report lately reached this place regarding your calamity, but I could not accurately ascertain the extent of its progress. Accordingly, I did not venture to take any active measures; I preferred having recourse to prayer; this I knew both to be more necessary for you, and to be desired by you.

Besides the abolition of the feast-days here has given grievous offense to some of your people, and it is likely enough that much unpleasant talk has been circulating among you. I am pretty certain, also, that I get the credit of being the author of the whole matter, both among the malevolent and the ignorant. But as I can solemnly testify that it was accomplished without my knowledge, and without my desire, so I resolved from the first; rather to weaken malice by silence, than be over-solicitous about my defense. Before I ever entered the city, there were no festivals but the Lord’s day. Those celebrated by you were approved of by the same public decree by which Farel and I were expelled; and it was rather extorted by the tumultuous violence of the ungodly, than decreed according to the order of law. Since my recall, I have pursued the moderate course of keeping Christ’s birth-day as you are wont to do. But there were extraordinary occasions of public prayer on other days; the shops were shut in the morning, and every one returned to his several calling after dinner. There were, however, in the meanwhile, certain inflexible individuals who did not comply with the common custom from some perverse malice or other. Diversity would not be tolerated in a rightly constituted church: even for citizens not to live on good terms with one another, would beget mistrust among strangers. I exhorted the Senate to remove this disagreement in future by a proper remedy. And indeed, I lauded, at the same time, in express terms, the moderation which they had hitherto exercised. I afterwards heard of the abrogation, just as a perfect stranger would. Would that had acted less ambitiously on former occasions! For feast-days might have been abolished in that entire province. In order that those four might return to their old condition and former privileges, he contended as keenly against all the French-speaking pastors as if he had been acting for the good of the Church. You would have said that Victor was doing battle with the Orientals in behalf of his Easter. When I once asked him why circumcision had a right to more honor than the death of Christ, he was compelled to be silent. But let us forget the past. I am satisfied with having indicated briefly the cause of so sudden a change among us. Although I have neither been the mover nor instigator to it, yet, since it has so happened, I am not sorry for it. And if you knew the state of our Church as well as I do, you would not hesitate to subscribe to my judgment. Let me say this, however, that if I had got my choice, I should not have decided in favor of what has now been agreed upon. Yet there is no reason why men should be so much provoked, if we use our liberty as the edification of the Church demands; just as, on the contrary, it is not fair to take a prejudice against our custom.

Adieu, very excellent sir and brother, deserving of my hearty regard. Salute your colleagues, I pray you, and Mr. Nicolas Zerkinden, in my name. My brethren salute you and those aforementioned, very heartily. May the Lord by his Spirit rule over you, preserve you, and bless you in all things.

John Calvin.

(John Calvin, Selected Works of John Calvin, Tracts and Letters, Jules Bonnet, Ed., David Constable, Trans., Vol. 5, Letters, Part 2, 1545-1553, pp. 299, 300.)


5; akses 5/5/2015 20:34

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