Between the years of 1659-1681, the Puritans in New England disapproved of the celebration of Christmas because they considered it a heathen holiday. The Puritans had gotten this idea from the English Parliament when they had forbidden Christmas to be celebrated in England. The reason for this was that the Bible mentions the Lord's day is the only day that should be considered holy. Meanwhile, states such as Virginia and New York went on celebrating.
Christmas Day then fell out of favor with the people in the United States all together after the American Revolution. Christmas was at that point thought to be an "English Custom" and the people of the United States didn't want anything to do with their way of life. Congress was actually in session on Christmas Day in 1789, the first Christmas under America's new constitution.
In 1819, Washington Irving, an American author wrote a book of short stories called "The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon". In this book, Irving described various Christmas traditions that were thought to be true but in reality these traditions were Irving's ideas of what the Christmas holiday should be about. Even though these Christmas traditions were thought up in Irving's mind, the people of the United States made them a part of their holiday season.
In the year of 1850, Christmas trees started to be sold commercially in the United States. This started because images of the royal family of England with their Christmas tree were printed in English magazines in 1848. England had restored the celebration of Christmas in 1660 after one hundred years of reformation and Puritan restraint. This same print was then copied in the United States in 1850 because Queen Victoria was always copied for her fashion sense even in American society.
It wasn't until June 26, 1870 that Christmas became a federal holiday. At first, Christmas was only applicable to federal employees in the District of Columbia. It wasn't until 1885 that Congress extended the Christmas holiday to the federal employees outside the DC area.
In more recent years, Christmas has become the subject of much controversy. Some people think that the making of Christmas as an official holiday violates separation of church and state. This issue has been brought to trial several times but in the end it has been ruled in the verdict for Ganulin v. United States (1999) that "the establishment of Christmas Day as a legal public holiday does not violate the Establishment Clause because it has a valid secular purpose."
From the beginning, Christmas was about sharing and giving to those we care about. Nowadays Christmas has become commercialized and has been debated about so often that the true meaning has been lost among the arguments. Whether Christmas is a secular holiday or a religious holiday to the people of the United States, the holiday season should still be looked upon as a time to celebrate with family and friends.