Was Christmas Illegal in the United States in the 17th century? Did the United Kingdom make it so that Santa couldn’t drive a car (much less his sleigh!)? Learn about all this and more with these weird and wacky laws from around the world.
Some quick things to note before we get started
- Stay far away from North Korea during the Christmas season.
- Light trespass is grounds for a lawsuit in New Jersey (Watch out Santa!).
- Christmas pudding and mince pie are no longer on the UK’s prohibited Christmas foods list.
We all like to think that our lawmakers are noble, well-educated, dedicated men and women who have our best interest at heart. Unfortunately, these laws prove that is not always the case!
Christmas is a holiday observed in almost all countries on the planet, so there are plenty of laws on what you can and cannot do during the season. Today we explore the weirdest.
A 5000-pound fine if you drive while wearing Christmas party outfits in the UK
In the spirit of spreading love and goodwill to humanity during the season, lawmakers in the UK decided to pass a new legislature that fines anyone found wearing any party outfit that impedes the individual’s ability to travel. In what many assume is a plot against Santa outfits, the new legislature targets what you wear on your feet and face.
What is rule 97 of the highway code?
In the UK, rule 97 requires drivers to ensure that they do not wear footwear or clothing that prevents them from correctly using the controls.
How does a Santa suit prevent you from using car controls?
The boots, the beard and some may argue the fake pot belly may interfere with driving. How?
According to Geico car insurance, large boots make it harder for you to feel where the pedals are. Because of that, there is a lot more room for errors and more reason to take your eyes off the road. The beard may interfere with sight. So, are Santa suits banned in the UK?
No. the law says, you violate rule 97 if you fail to properly control your motor vehicle. If accused of failure to control your vehicle because of your clothing, the punishment is:
- A 5000 pound fine.
- Discretionary disqualification.
- 9 points on your license.
Boston outlawed Christmas in 1659
After decapitating King Charles 1 and overthrowing the government in 1647, puritans set their eyes on Christmas. In their opinion, December 25th was supposed to be a day of fasting and prayer so that English men and women could account for their sins.
Skip forward 12 years to 1659, puritans who had migrated to New England, through the General Court of Massachusetts Bay Colony declared quote:
“Whosoever shall be found observing any such day as Christmas or the like, either by forbearing labor, feasting or in any other way. was subject to a five-shilling fine”
This continued until the law was repealed in the late 17th century, but not before the Puritans had put their mark on Christmas in New England. The celebration of Christmas while not illegal through the 17th or 18th centuries was heavily discouraged in New England, but they came around eventually with the church of the Puritans actually beginning to hold formal Christmas observances within churches in the beginning of the 19th century.
Why did puritans hate Christmas?
They had a few reasons for hating on Christmas.
- Puritans believed that there was no spiritual basis for commemorating Christmas. Meaning, in their eyes, Christmas was a violation of bible teachings.
- Puritans were a pious religious minority that had fled persecution from an Anglican majority felt that the revelry was a bit much.
- Christmas as a holiday has pagan origins so in celebrating it they would be committing the sin of idolatry.
Did the Puritans ban Christmas?
Yes, Puritans banned Christmas through a decree in 1659. Are you allowed to celebrate Christmas in Boston today? Yes! This was repealed a short time later, and the Puritan church ended up celebrating Christmas formally in more modern times. In 1870 Christmas became a national holiday in the United States and it’s been celebrated ever since.
In some parts of New Jersey “light trespass” is unlawful
If you are in Eatontown New Jersey, any violation of the region’s “Outdoor Lighting Ordinance Guide,” is cause for an enforcement document to be issued to the individual or accused. If you get an enforcement document, you are entitled to a hearing in municipal court where you can contest the action.
If found guilty, the accused is subject to a civil penalty for each penalty of not more than $1250. The court may also order imprisonment or community service for a period not exceeding 90 days.
Translated, what that means is, if glare from your house is a nuisance to your neighbors, or is hazardous to cyclists, motorists, and causes fatigue or reduced vision. Your setup is a violation of the ordinance, and thus, if reported may result in a civil action or jail time.
There are also ordinances in new jersey that aim to stop unwanted noise and activities that may cause a traffic jam.
So, if you are in New Jersey, it is in your best interest to check which ordinances affect you. How do you do that? Visit the official site of the state of new jersey Department of State.
To avoid potential problems with your neighbors or authorities we recommend:
- Do not use excessive artificial light.
- Avoid misaligned or inappropriate lights that cause unnecessary glowing.
- Drop Santa a pin to find your home as the reindeer may not be able to find it without adequate lighting
Are there laws on how long you can keep Christmas lights on?
In Maine, you have until January 14th to take down your Christmas lights. In San Diego, failure to take down your Christmas lights by February 2nd is a finable offense. So yes, there are laws on how long you can keep your Christmas lights on.
Note: these laws only apply to lights outside your home that may be a nuisance to neighbors, so if you decide to keep the lights inside the home indefinitely, no one will fine or jail you for that.
In Arkansas it is Illegal to Sell Alcohol on Christmas Day
The law says no. Furthermore, it is unlawful to sell alcohol in Arkansas on a Sunday.
What to remember:
- Some restaurants in Arkansas sell alcohol on Sundays and Christmas. But it is a good idea to ask before making any plans that involve alcohol.
- Public intoxication is a class C misdemeanor in Arkansas.
- Arkansas law does not allow the driver nor the passenger to drink or have an open container in the vehicle.
Christmas pudding was banned in England
To tackle gluttony, one of the “deadly sins,” Oliver Cromwell, a respected Puritan English General banned the act of eating pudding and mince pies on Christmas day. But how true is this?
It depends on who you ask, some historians claim that the ban was in Cromwell’s statute books and others say the ban never happened.
Celebrating Christmas in public is banned in at least five countries
North Korea is an atheist state. Consequently, Christianity and other religions are banned in the country. Included in the banned list is the right to talk about Christmas, celebrate, or worship. What are you allowed to do in North Korea on Christmas?
The North Korean government made it a policy to celebrate Kim Jong Suk, the current dictator’s grandmother known to many in the country as “the sacred mother of the revolution.” Apart from celebrating Christmas, other religious acts that violate North Korean law include:
- Singing Christmas or religious hymns
- Having contact with religious people
- Possession of religious items.
If you or a family member is found committing any of the acts above, it may mean the gulag for the whole family.
Other countries that have laws against celebrating Christmas in public include:
- Saudi Arabia
And England. Yes, it was once much more difficult to celebrate Christmas in England. While not exactly illegal, Cromwell enacted government measures between 1647 and 1660 that severely curtailed Christmas celebrations. To him and his Puritan followers, Christmas was a day that gave liberty to carnal and sensual delights.
What are some weird Christmas facts?
- Islamic law does not prohibit followers from wishing Christians happy holidays. But some imams disagree.
- Candy cane’s J shape stands for Jesus
- In some parts of Australia, it is unlawful to partake in public entertainment for profit on Christmas day.
- The right to say “Merry Christmas” is protected by law in Texas.
- In Philadelphia, it is unlawful to have a Christmas tree in a townhouse, or apartment with more than three dwellings.