Christmas Presents?

The Dutch newspaper "Nederlands Dagblad" of the 17th November 2005 carried an article headed, "A real Calvinist does not celebrate Christmas". The article named the brother of our collective female ancestor Catherina Hendrika Meerburg.

On Christmas Day 1835 the Reverend G F Gezelle Meerburg, the Pastor of the Independent Church in Almkerk , required his servant to clean the windows. This was to show that Christmas was a human invention and not ordered by God such as the observance of Sunday. The resistance against Christmas continues as a low-key undertone in the history of the Christmas celebrations of the Protestant Churches. (….)
Christmas was a practical problem for many ministers. In the nineteenth century NC Kist (1793-1859) reformed minister in Zoelen and later Professor in Leiden, complained about the many times he had to preach in the grimmest season of the year because it was still cold during the time of Kist. The feelings spread. In 1872 the Dutch Reformed Synod had to consider a proposal to: "move the celebrations to the last Sunday of the year." The proposal was rejected, however the objections remained especially amongst the more progressive pastors. It remained a trusted point on the agendas of their annual meetings.
Gezelle Meerburg, the man who has his windows cleaned on Christmas Day, had few followers amongst his spiritual successors, the Reformers¹. But even amongst them the Christmas celebrations continued to cause problems. The Christmas tree found only very slow acceptance in the home of the Reformers. "The Reformers generally have difficulties with the Christmas Tree," so wrote the Rev. JC Rullman in 1934, "not only because of its pagan origins, but because the radiant tree with the presents diverts the attention from the main theme and it contributes to the secularization of Christmas."
Calvin would have said, "Amen".

How would the publishing business have fared had this attitude prevailed in the Callenbach family.

Gégé Callenbach (

¹ In Dutch, there are two words in use for "reformed". The Dutch Reformed Church uses the word "Hervormed". Later there was a schism and the ones who left the Dutch Reformed Church called themselves Gereformeerd, from the French Reformé. Your translator has used the term "Reformers" for those who left during the schism.