Gold Rush Christmas

Before the Gold Rush, Christmas was just another working day tending livestock or repairing equipment for those Americans who had settled in California, although many took time out for a few hours of quiet celebration. On December 24, 1845, Captain John Sutter’s logbook records that a worker completed a pump Continue reading Gold Rush Christmas

Gold Miner’s Christmas

When Christmas came during the early Gold Rush years, thousands of predominantly male, mostly young gold-seekers were far away from ordinary comforts and the familiar faces back home. A number of preachers in the gold camps or town saloons offered short holiday services, and some miners dodged the pain of Continue reading Gold Miner’s Christmas

Christmas at Sutter’s Fort

Swiss adventurer John Sutter built a large, walled trading post in the California wilderness, which included a blacksmith forge, a crude gristmill, a carpenter’s shop, a blanket weaving room, and a tannery.  Inside the walls was a kitchen large enough to feed the dozens of tradesmen, craftsmen, fur trappers, gardeners, and Continue reading Christmas at Sutter’s Fort

Christmas in Mexican California

Secularization of the California missions (taking control away from the Catholic Church in favor of private ownership) began in 1834, after the Mexican government decided that they could no longer afford to support the mission system. At Christmastime, however, the centuries-long, deeply ingrained and much beloved Continue reading Christmas in Mexican California

California’s 1st Christmas

Father Juan Crespi, who accompanied Gaspar de Portola’s expedition to California in 1769, celebrated the first Christmas in Alta California. The padre was overjoyed when 200 curious Indians brought gifts of pinole (a coarse flour) and some fish to the explorer’s camp on Christmas Eve. “It was God’s will that we Continue reading California’s 1st Christmas