When Did Christmas Become A Legal Holiday?

Christmas is a legal holiday in many countries.
Christmas is a legal holiday in many countries.

The 25th of December is a day marked by Christians across the globe. The day celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ; the Prophet sent by God to liberate mankind from evil. Many people and cultures across the world including Christians celebrate the holiday. In many countries including the US, Christmas is celebrated as a federal holiday. The festival was formally recognized as a national holiday in the US in 1870.

Waves Of Religious Reform

In the mid-17th century, religious reforms across Europe changed the way Christians celebrated the holiday in Europe. In 1654 Oliver Cromwell led a Puritan force in assuming control of England and consequently banned Christmas. When Charles II rose to powe,r he reestablished the holiday. In 1620, English separatists reached America; but at that time Christmas was not recognized as a holiday in the continent. Between 1659-81 Christmas was banned in Boston but Captain John Smith led the people of Jamestown in celebrating the day.

Christmas As A State Holiday

In the 19th century, the concept of celebrating Christmas began to spread across the states. The holiday was re-invented by Americans into a jamboree that centered on wistfulness and peace. The northern and southern states had contrasting views on the issue of slavery and Christmas. The northerners preferred thanksgiving to Christmas while the southerners viewed the event as an essential celebration. In 1836 Christmas was declared a holiday in Alabama, in 1838 Louisiana and Arkansas followed suit.

Christmas As A Federal Holiday

In the 1870s, the federal government began recognizing state holidays as federal holidays. Christmas, George Washington’s Birthday, New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Independence Day were the first five holidays to be adopted as federal holidays. In 1968 all employees except those in critical government and state installations were required to take a three day off to celebrate Christmas with their families. Several countries across the globe adopted the concept of nationalizing Christmas. During the festival, facilities such as schools, banks, hotels, and businesses remain closed. Today, many secular countries like India also celebrate Christmas as a national holiday.


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