The Pilgrims did not celebrate the religious holidays that we celebrate today. Like the English and Scottish Puritans, they held that customs taken from folklore and non-Christian writings were contrary to the spirit of Christianity. They knew that the dates of these celebrations were not based on the teachings of the Bible of history.
During Christmas 1620, they had only been at Plymouth for two weeks and they still had no shelter. On Christmas day they started to construct their first building, the common or storage house. Within a week the sickness that was to kill half of them.
The following Christmas there were 35 new settlers who had arrived unexpectedly on the Fortune the previous month. The village was still unfinished, housing was inadequate. Winter and the threat of starvation and another killer sickness was once more upon them.
Bradford, now Governor, wrote in his history Of Plimoth Plantation between 1630 and 1646:
On the day called Christmas Day, the Governor called them [all settlers] out to work as was used. But the most of this new company [Fortune arrivals] excused themselves and said it went against their consciences to work that day. So the Governor told them that if they made it a matter of conscience, he would spare them till 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 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 the keeping of it a matter of devotion, let them keep [to] 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.