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Boston Massachusetts Information -
The History of Christmas in Massachusetts


The early settlers of Massachusetts thought Christmas Day not much more than a pagan holiday that had been taken over (which in many ways is true). In order to strip down religion to its true and religious meanings, they did not celebrate Christmas. Governor William Bradford of Plymouth Colony even said in 1621 that on "the day called Christmas Day," that everybody should keep working. For those few that tried to take the day off, "he would spare them until they were better informed." Some of those few tried to celebrate outside anyway, and he sent them into their homes.

By the 1700s, the strictly religious settlers in Massachusetts had done without ´silliness´ like Christmas for over 100 years, and were quite content without it. Diaries and records from these times show December 25th being just another normal wintery day. While others in Europe might celebrate with pagan-inspired rituals, the Massachusetts settlers felt they had brought religion back to a pure state.

Until the early 1830s, the strict religious teachings of Massachusetts had not celebrated Christmas as a way of purifying the church. However, around this time Dutch and English began coming over in larger and larger numbers, and bringing with them decadent celebrations with lots of presents, mulled wine, decorations and parties. The Dutch brought with them the tradition of St. Nicholas. While the locals tried to resist, they began to get drawn into these displays. By the 1880s, Massachusetts was pretty wide-spread in its Christmas celebrations.

In modern day Boston, Christmas is a time of great joy and cheer. Lights are strung about the city, and watching a performance of the Nutcracker at the Boston Ballet is a holiday tradition for thousands of people.


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