New Year’s Eve

In 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.

Here Comes Santa Claus

When the Dutch settled in New York in 1624, they brought  their holiday custom of a gift-giving Sinterklaas, a fictitious figure based on Saint Nicholas, a first century AD Greek bishop known for his love of children and his generous gifts to those in need. In 1804 the New York Historical Society chose Saint Nicolas as their Continue reading Here Comes Santa Claus

All Hallows Eve

The migration of nearly two million Irish during 1845-1849 first brought the custom of Halloween to America. Irishmen by the thousands came to California for the Gold Rush from 1849 forward, although the traditions of adult legend-telling and children’s games on All Hallows Eve probably took a back seat to other considerations in those years.  Almanacs of the period make no mention of Halloween in their lists of holidays until later in the 19th century.  Have a safe & happy Halloween.


Independence Day 2017

Adopted by Congress on July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence publicly announced to the world the unanimous decision of the American colonies to declare themselves free and independent states, absolved from any allegiance to Great Britain. Though eloquent, the Declaration was only a statement of intent; a bloody, eleven-year war followed.  Today, remember those who gave their lives for our liberty.