Some things that we take for granted today used to be illegal. They were banned, even though they were pretty much harmless. Often, those responsible for these laws had motives other than the stated purposes of the bans.
The once-banned items on this list range from sports to beverages to even holidays. And the holiday we are talking about here isn’t just any holiday but Christmas. The fact that the ban was issued by a Christian sect even makes it more surprising.
Football (or soccer, if you prefer) has a turbulent history in England and Scotland, where it has been banned several times. Edward II of England issued the first ban on April 13, 1314, prohibiting the sport in London. He decreed that football caused noise and could lead to certain unwanted consequences.
A second ban followed in 1331, when Edward III prohibited football even further. Edward III went on to ban all sports in 1363 and ordered that everyone practice archery instead. Kings Richard II, Henry IV, and Henry V also forbade football during their reigns.
While most of the bans were issued over concerns that people spent more time playing football than practicing archery, the kings were not really as concerned with their subjects’ bowmanship as they tried to make it seem. Football was the game of the commoners, without the involvement of the aristocracy. So it was normal that they got jealous.
In 1659, the Puritans did the impossible by banning Christmas. The Puritans had a strict interpretation of Christianity and believed that all forms of celebration, including Christmas, were sins. They also considered Christmas a pagan holiday.
Christmas festivities were first banned in England in 1644 after the Puritans became the majority in the English parliament. The Puritans in New England heard of the ban and issued a similar one. The ban did not stop at Christmas. Christmas trees, decorations, and dishes like mince pies were also banned.
To ensure that no one was secretly celebrating Christmas, they demanded that businesses remain open on Christmas day. Town criers walked around the day before Christmas, reminding everyone that there was no Christmas the next day. Christmas remained banned in England until 1660 and in New England until 1681.