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The Christmas lesson Shakespeare wrote in ‘Hamlet’


Everett Collection | Shutterstock

Philip Kosloski - published on 12/23/21

Shakespeare wrote a brief Christmas lesson in 'Hamlet,' recording a common belief at the time that Christmas was so holy, evil spirits had no power.

Christmas has captivated the imaginations of people everywhere and in every age. It is a special night, and secular culture would even call it a “magical” night.

What’s interesting is how Christians believed that Christmas was so holy that evil spirits could do nothing. Even witches had no power to cast spells on Christmas or during the entire Christmas season.

Shakespeare mentions this common belief at the time in his play, Hamlet, during the first act.

Some say that ever ‘gainst that season comes
Wherein our Savior’s birth is celebrated,
The bird of dawning singeth all night long:
And then, they say, no spirit dares stir abroad;
The nights are wholesome; then no planets strike,
No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm,
So hallow’d and so gracious is the time.

Shakespeare didn’t intend this to be a “lesson,” for he was simply recounting a belief popular among Christians in England. Yet, it can bring to mind for us the simple reality of the power of Christ’s birth.

Jesus’ birth is so powerful that the demonic flees from the sight of the manger. Evil cannot stand the humility of it all, and how God took on human flesh.

Christmas is a beautiful time of the year, a time not of magic but of holiness that can conquer any darkness and drive away any evil.

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