When Oliver Cromwell took over England in 1645, Christmas was cancelled as part of a Puritan effort to rid the country of decadence. This proved unpopular, and when Charles II was restored to the throne, he restored the celebration. The Pilgrims, a group of Puritanical English separatists who came to North America in 1620, also disapproved of Christmas, and as a result it was not a holiday in early America. The celebration of Christmas was actually outlawed from 1659 to 1681 in Boston, a prohibition enforced with a fine of five shillings. The people of the Jamestown settlement, on the other hand, celebrated the occasion freely. Christmas fell out of favor again after the American Revolution, as it was considered an “English custom”, and it was not declared a federal holiday in the United States until June 26, 1870.
From Wikipedia. (Hat tip: reader Eric E.)