Obscure law means less-spirited Boxing Day
Michael Hass of Back Bat stocked up on wine at Blanchard's liquor store in Allston yesterday. "The Monday law is so obscure," he said. "People don't even know it's on the books." (Globe Staff Photo / Erik Jacobs)
By Donovan Slack, Globe Staff | December 24, 2005
If celebrations this weekend leave liquor cabinets bereft of holiday spirits, don't expect to stock up on Monday. At least not in Massachusetts, anyway.
State legislators may have repealed the age-old ban on Sunday liquor sales, but at least one remnant remains: When Christmas falls on a Sunday, there will be no alcohol sales on Monday.
''It's just one of those quirks in the law," explained Daniel F. Pokaski, head of the Boston Licensing Board.
Like the prohibitions on blasphemy, adultery, and yelling profanities at players or officials during sporting events that remain on the books in Massachusetts, the alcohol-sales ban on the Monday after a Christmas Sunday is a rather obscure covenant to the average citizen.
''That's really strange," said Cambridge resident Duncan Sanders, who purchased only a couple of bottles of wine at the local Trader Joe's to get him through the weekend.
Unlike other little-known laws, such as those barring public kissing, the Monday alcohol ban has been enforced regularly since its inception in 1936, state officials say. Regularly is relative, of course. The last time Christmas fell on a Sunday was 1994. The next will be 2011.
Officials at the state's Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission, which is charged with enforcing the ban, said they've been getting a lot of feedback on this year's required Monday closure. Some storeowners are happy for the day off, while others are lamenting the loss of business.
''I think the reason it's an issue this year is this is the first year after Sunday sales were allowed that this happened," said Natacha Dunker, state outreach coordinator for the commission. Dunker said many people assumed that when the Sunday sales ban was repealed in 2003, the Monday-after-Christmas prohibition was thrown out, too.
Dunker said she didn't know why a seemingly nonreligious day like Monday would have drawn the attention of lawmakers who typically sought to control behaviors on Sundays.
At the Massachusetts Historical Society, librarian Peter Drummey theorized that the ban was meant to curb drunkeness on the day Christmas is observed by the state, as well as on the day it is celebrated by religion.
Whatever the reasoning, managers at liquor stores are posting warning signs, while many at grocery stores are set to barricade beer and wine shelves to avoid violating the law.
''It's kind of one of those quirky holidays," said Michael Mignosa, manager of Milton Market Place, where workers will be stringing plastic chains and posting apologetic signs around alcohol displays.
At Liquor Land in Roxbury, the manager agreed that the ban was more than a little odd, but said it's good for industry employees.
''I'm thrilled about it, because it's two days off in a row, which is unheard of in the liquor business," Christina Petrillo said.
One cashier in a Santa hat chimed in, ''The liquor gods have smiled upon us!"
As customers wove through the aisles picking out case after case of wine, beer, and rum, cashier Jeremy Bridge, instructed coworkers on appropriate seasonal etiquette. ''The proper way to answer the phone today is, 'Hello, this is Liquor Land, where the Christmas spirit never stops flowing.' "
A few minutes later, he corrected himself with a grin, ''Except for Sunday and Monday."
Hell, they're lucky the old Puritan proscriptions against celebrating Christmas aren't observed anymore. They used to flog you for being frivolous...
I love old weird laws that are still on the books.
Just last Fall, Boston finally got rid of a law making it illegal to be an Indian and within the city limits of Boston.
Floggin's are cool!!! Especially when you aren't the one being flogged!!!
Ted Kennedy was made to be sober one day? say it isn't so
I'll pass on the floggin' thanks!