While the Puritans succeeded in suppressing most holiday revelry, they could not quell it completely. The authorities condemned fishermen and other residents of the region's coastal villages as irreligious; they behaved in unacceptable ways, from heavy drinking to "keeping Christmas."
One Christmas conflict occurred in Salem in 1679. On the night of December 25th, four men entered the home of farmer John Rowden and helped themselves to seats by the fire, began to sing, and then demanded cups of the Rowdens' pear wine. After being repeatedly refused, they pretended to leave the house, only to return and demand money. Turned out again, they continued their harassment, throwing "stones, bones, and other things" at the house and stealing several pecks of apples. These men were re-enacting the time-honored English tradition of "wassailing," where lower-class revelers entered the homes of their social superiors at Christmas time. In exchange for singing and mumming, the uninvited guests generally received gifts of food, drink, or money. In England, the tradition had long fostered good will between people who occupied different rungs of the social ladder, but as the events in Salem indicate, this was not so in Puritan New England.
Under pressure from the British government, Massachusetts repealed the law against Christmas festivities in 1681. The holiday was widely, and sometimes wildly, celebrated from 1687 to 1689, the period after Massachusetts Bay lost its charter and was governed by an English official. When the colony regained its charter in 1689, public expressions of Christmas cheer ended, at least for the time being.