Why Massachusetts Banned Christmas In 1659

Matt Lillywhite

Many Americans don't know that Christmas was once banned in Massachusetts. However, it's a true fact that it was prohibited for several decades in the 1600s.

"The Massachusetts Bay Colony enacted a law called Penalty for Keeping Christmas. The notion was that such festivals as were superstitiously kept in other countries were a great dishonor of God and offense of others," per Massachusetts Law Updates (a government website).

The Rationale Behind Banning Christmas In 1659.

The Puritans in England banned Christmas as one of their first acts after overthrowing the monarch, King Charles. Consequently, Parliament declared December 25th a day of fasting and humiliation for Englishmen to atone for their sins.

A few years later, the Puritans of New England decided to follow suit. So, in 1659, the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony made it a criminal offense to celebrate Christmas. They also said that "whosoever shall be found observing any such day as Christmas or the like, either by forbearing of labor, feasting or any other way," would receive a 5-shilling fine.

The Infamous Christmas Ban Was Lifted In 1681.

In 1681, laws prohibiting the celebration of Christmas were removed, but devout Puritans continued to view the holiday as a disgrace. To them, Christmas symbolized royal officialdom, outsider involvement in local affairs, lewd conduct, and a hindrance to their sacred mission. But almost two centuries after the ban, Christmas became a public holiday in Massachusetts in 1856.

What do you think about Massachusetts banning Christmas? Leave a comment with your thoughts. And if you think more people should read this article, share it on social media.

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