New Year Customs of Old

New year ballIn the last decade of the 19th century Californians celebrated the coming of a new year much like we do today, with parties, games, and resolutions to better themselves. Churches drew the faithful for services with choirs and special sermons on New Year’s Eve; masquerade balls promised to usher out the old and usher in the New Year in style. Gatherings were advertised as “Watch Parties,” that is, watching for the midnight hour to chime out from clocks while fashionably clad and bejeweled guests dined, danced, and socialized. In December 1897 the San Francisco Call announced that their new offices would sponsor a brilliant electrical display until “the Merry Bells Ring in the Glad New Year,” and also noted a football game to be held New Year’s Day 1898 in Alameda between the San Francisco Vampires and the Oakland Saturday Night Combination.

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