The early Puritans in Massachusetts regarded Christmas as a “false” celebration of the birth of Jesus, with stronger ties to paganism than to Christianity. They also disapproved of the drinking and partying associated with the holiday.
Thus, on this day in history in 1659, the Massachusetts Bay Colony legislature passed a ban on the celebration of Christmas:
The ban was not repealed until 1681, when a new surge of European immigrants brought with them a demand for the holiday. Still, the holiday was not universally embraced. In 1856, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote in his journal:
We are in a transition state about Christmas here in New England. The old Puritan feeling prevents it from being a cheerful hearty holiday; though every year makes it more so.”
The Massachusetts legislature had only made Christmas an official holiday in the state on April 15, 1856. On June 28, 1870, the U.S. Congress, apparently prompted by a memorial drafted by local “bankers and business men,” made Christmas a national holiday.