If you live in a state where liquor sales are prohibited on Sundays, you are feeling the effects of blue laws. A blue law is defined as a law that enforces moral standards, such as the observance of Sunday as a day of rest or worship. While most blue laws have been repealed or go unenforced, the prohibition of alcohol on Sundays is still enforced in many areas across the United States.
The term “blue law” was first used by Reverend Samuel Peters in his book, The General History of Connecticut. Reverend Peters used this term to describe the laws that were created by the Puritan colonies in the 1600s to prohibit business activities on Sundays. While some laws prohibited the sale of certain types of goods, some laws prohibited all business and retail activity.
Although some people think that these laws were written on blue paper, this was not the case. In the 18th century, “blue” was used as a disparaging term to describe strict moral codes and the people who observed them. This also led to the terms “bluenoses” and “blue movies.” While Reverend Peters claimed that the term blue law was used by the Puritans, it was eventually determined that he invented the term himself.
During the mid to late 1800s, many southern and mid-western states passed laws to protect the Sabbath day. These laws would often have penalties for performing secular activities on Sunday as a way to enforce church attendance. Many people were arrested for playing baseball or fixing things around the house on Sunday.
Until 1985, it was illegal to sell house wares, such as pots, dishes and washing machines, on Sundays in Texas. Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Missouri, Minnesota, Michigan, Maine, Louisiana, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois and Colorado have blue laws that prohibit car dealerships from purchasing or trading vehicles on Sundays.
In many states, selling alcohol on Sunday, or at least before noon, is prohibited. This is due to the belief that, rather than drinking liquor, people should be in church on Sunday..
Blue laws do not only affect Sundays – in Connecticut and Massachusetts, most retail stores are prohibited from opening on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
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