Was Christmas really outlawed? Sure was.
Christmas was legally banned for 22 years from 1659-1681 in Boston. Even after the ban was lifted, it took many years for celebrating Christmas to become fashionable in Boston. Law makers thought of the ban as a way to regulate society.
"For preventing disorders, arising in several places within this jurisdiction…….whosoever shall be found observing any such day as Christmas or the like, either by forbearing of labor, feasting, or any other way…. shall pay for every such offence five shilling as a fine to the county."
~General Court Records, MA Bay Colony, 5-1659<
Why ban Christmas? As stated in the first sentence of the law, there had been disorderly disturbances. However, the deeper reasoning for the ban was related to an overall desire to escape the Church of England customs. Having recently fled England to settle in America, the Puritans wanted no reminders of old the customs that had previously governed their lives. They wanted to break free in the new land.
Holiday traditions. Things we think of as age old traditions like decorating Christmas trees, feasts with family and even giving gifts came much later.
Christmas trees were actually a 17th-century German invention. This addition to the holidays mimicked the age old pagan practice of decorating greenery in your home during the winter months to bring cheer.
Feasts are just a natural part of winter. Who wouldn’t want to have a feast when they are gathering with family and friends. Historians say, the winter is a natural time for gathering and feasting since the years work is finished and the season is too cold and short for many activities.
Gift giving came naturally after decorating and gathering for a feast. This uplifting tradition began in the Victorian era of the 1800’s with small tokens to show appreciation and love.
Decorate, feast and share the holidays with your loved ones and friends.