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This week in Christian history: Massachusetts bans Christmas, YMCA founder born

Massachusetts bans Christmas – May 11, 1659

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This week marks the anniversary of when the Puritan-dominated Massachusetts Bay Colony legislature passed a law banning the celebration of Christmas.

The Puritan colony already held a low view of the Christmas holiday, believing that it was a reflection of paganism and seeing it as a source of sinful revelry.

The law, which was eventually repealed in 1681, charged a fine for anyone found observing Christmas, as they viewed it as being “to the great dishonnor of God” and felt the law was “preventing disorders.”

“When it was repealed in 1681, it was less a victory for the spirit of Christmas than for the king of England: Charles II and his royal commissioners were determined to make the colony’s laws conform with England’s,” wrote Dana P. Marriott for American Heritage.

“Though no longer illegal, Christmas was still far from popular with the Puritans. Their dim view of what they regarded as pagan revelry or, alternatively, papist idolatry, was so pervasive that over a hundred years later Christmas in New England was a dull affair compared to the festive holiday of New York and points south.”

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