December in Boston hasn’t always been ho-ho-ho and mistletoe. For more than two decades, the Puritans declared Christmas illegal and individuals caught celebrating were fined.
Between 1659-1681, the Massachusetts Bay Colony upheld a penalty for keeping Christmas. In short, the law deemed “whosoever shall be found observing any such day as Christmas or the like, either by forbearing of labor, feasting, or any other way” paid a (literal) price of five shillings.
Well into the 1800s, shops and schools remained open on Dec. 25; it was only in 1856 that Christmas Day was deemed a public holiday in the state.
– Hannah Van Sickle, The Boston 100