Many of us know that Massachusetts is a beloved place to live, work, play, and visit but there are some funky characteristics regarding the Bay State. For example, Massachusetts still has some blue laws that are either strange, outdated, or plain old headscratchers. For example, it's illegal to scare a pigeon in Massachusetts. Another blue law is prohibiting the making or selling of candy that contains more than one percent alcohol. How about the strange law of it being illegal to play the fiddle in Boston? Some laws in Massachusetts will never seem to make sense. When will they ever get updated?

WBEC FM logo
Get our free mobile app

While on the topic of the strange and outdated, Massachusetts is only one of four states (the others being Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Virginia) that is still referred to as a commonwealth.

We Know Massachusetts is a Commonwealth State but What Does That Mean? 

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a commonwealth is an independent country or community, especially a democratic republic.

That Definition Doesn't Seem Accurate for Current Day Massachusetts 

If you are thinking that the definition doesn't seem to currently apply to Massachusetts or the three other previoulsy mentioned states you would be correct. According to Merriam-Webster (which is located in the Massachusetts city of Springfield), the four states that are referred to as commonwealths are in name only. Here's a statement from Merriam-Webster about the commonwealth name distinction for Massachusetts, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

The commonwealths are just like any other state in their politics and laws, and there is no difference in their relationship to the nation as a whole.

Why is Massachusetts Called a Commonwealth?

As stated by Merriam-Webster:

The term commonwealth was preferred by a number of political writers in the years leading up to 1780, when the Massachusetts constitution officially designated the state as such; the preference is believed to have existed perhaps because there was some anti-monarchial sentiment in using the word commonwealth.

Below is a Brief Video Courtesy of GBH News That Explains What it Means for Massachusetts to be a Commonwealth and How it Happened.

Now we know the history and mystery of Massachusetts being a commonwealth state. Where it may have mattered at one time, like the blue laws, it doesn't have much significance in this day and age.

LOOK: What major laws were passed the year you were born?

Data for this list was acquired from trusted online sources and news outlets. Read on to discover what major law was passed the year you were born and learn its name, the vote count (where relevant), and its impact and significance.

Gallery Credit: Katelyn Leboff

READ ON: See the States Where People Live the Longest

Stacker used data from the 2020 County Health Rankings to rank every state's average life expectancy from lowest to highest. The 2020 County Health Rankings values were calculated using mortality counts from the 2016-2018 National Center for Health Statistics. The U.S. Census 2019 American Community Survey and America's Health Rankings Senior Report 2019 data were also used to provide demographics on the senior population of each state and the state's rank on senior health care, respectively.

Read on to learn the average life expectancy in each state.

Gallery Credit: Hannah Lang

LOOK: 25 must-visit hidden gems from across the US

From secret gardens to underground caves, Stacker compiled a list of 25 must-visit hidden gems from across the United States using travel guides, news articles, and company websites.

Gallery Credit: Abby Monteil

More From WBEC FM