When Celebrating Christmas Was Illegal in Massachusetts
It's the most wonderful time of the year but once upon a time in Massachusetts, celebrating Christmas was banned.
That's right. Back in 1659, Massachusetts Bay Colony had a law called Penalty for Keeping Christmas.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts spills the tea on its website:
The notion was that such 'festivals as were superstitiously kept in other countries' were a 'great dishonor of God and offence of others.' Anyone found celebrating Christmas by failing to work, 'feasting, or any other way… shall pay for every such offence five shillings.'
In case you're curious, five shillings amounts to about $48 in today's money. So, it's not a ton of cash but still ... paying a fine for celebrating?
The actual law can be found here.
When did Christmas become legal in Massachusetts, exactly? Technically, 1856. In that year, federal laws were passed to acknowledge not only Christmas, but President Washington's birthday and Independence Day as recognized holidays.
I'm definitely glad we can celebrate Christmas now as this time of year and all the things that come along with it bring so much joy to so many people.
What would we do if were weren't able to celebrate this holiday?
Well, it might make some people happy.
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