1652: Strict Puritan Oliver Cromwell, after lopping off the head of Charles I three years earlier, outlaws all Christmas celebrations in England. Outraged citizens in Canterbury riot and pass a resolution of their own: If they can't have Christmas, they want their king back. The monarchy is restored in 1660.

1776: American colonists follow the Puritan traditions and do not celebrate Christmas. Traditionally celebrants of the holiday, German mercenaries hired to fight for the British in the Revolutionary War are surprised during their campside revels by Gen. George Washington, who crossed the Delaware River and broke up the party.

1805: Lewis and Clark celebrate Christmas Day with their employees. "After breakfast we divided our remaining stock of tobacco into two parts; one of which we distributed among the party as made use of it; making a present of a hankerchief to the others. The remainder of the day was passed in good spirits though there was nothing in our situation to excite much gayety." 1843: Charles Dickens creates literature's most famous office party in "A Christmas Carol": The Ghost of Christmas Past takes Scrooge back to the dance hosted by his dear old employer. "Yo, ho, my boys!" said Fezziwig. "No more work tonight. Christmas Eve, Dick! Christmas, Ebenezer!"

1856: Christmas is still a normal workday in Boston. Failure to report to the office is grounds for dismissal.

1983: Ed Meese tells the National Press Club that Scrooge, to whom he has been compared, suffered from "bad press in his time. If you really look at the facts, he didn't exploit Bob Cratchit."

1989: Miss Manners, writing in the "Miss Manners' Guide for the Turn-of-the-Millennium," gives the official nose up to office parties. "The American tradition of entertaining, or being entertained by, the boss has resulted in very little pleasure or productivity compared to the amount of anxiety, boredom or remorse it produces."