Christmas in the Mines

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 Christmas in the Mines

Celebrating 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 Celebrating Christmas

Mexican-era Christmas

Secularization of the 21 California missions began in 1834, which took mission lands away from the Catholic Church and into the control of private ownership. At Christmastime, however, the centuries-long, deeply engrained and much beloved religious practices and family customs would not be denied.  A few weeks Continue reading Mexican-era Christmas

Mission-era Christmases

While establishing the 21 California missions and attending to their growth and prosperity, Franciscan priests found time to teach the native Indians to play the lute, violin, trumpet, metal triangle, and to sing or chant Christ’s Mass in Latin and Christmas carols in Spanish. During the Spanish and Mexican Continue reading Mission-era Christmases

First Christmas in California

In 1768, Father Junipero Serra was appointed to build a chain of missions in Spain’s vast—but as yet un-colonized—territory known as Alta California. Serra’s associate Father Juan Crespi, who arrived in San Diego overland from Baja California on May 14, 1769, recorded the first Christmas celebration in the new land. Continue reading First Christmas in California