When Christopher Columbus returned home with news of his discovery, ships of many nations set sail for the New World with various agendas. Spain, quite unabashedly, went in quest of gold. They found it in Mexico—where the natives who came out to greet Hernan Cortez were wearing it. It is ironic, then, that neither Continue reading The Quest for Gold
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
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
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 (1769-1822) and Mexican (1822-1848) periods, settlers and Indian neophytes enacted a church play at Christmastime known variously as Los Pastores, La Pastorela, and El Diablo en la Pastorela, derived from Spanish mystery plays of the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries. Those who took part in the 1829 performance at San Diego rehearsed night after night, until at last Christmas Eve arrived. People lit candles, fireworks, and bonfires at an early hour. Later attendants rang church bells, summoning the faithful. Upon the twanging of a guitar, worshipers cleared a space for the entrance of the cast. After the play, the congregation gathered at the church door and greeted each other with “Feliz Noche Buena” (Happy Christmas Eve). People presented Los Pastores in missions, chapels, plazas, and private patios on Christmas Day and for several days thereafter. Performances inside the church were mostly verbal; in non-church versions, children followed the players through the streets.
Father Juan Crespi, who accompanied Gaspar de Portola on his search for Monterey Bay in 1769, celebrated the first Christmas in Alta California. The padre was overjoyed when 200 curious Indians brought gift baskets of pinole (a coarse flour) and some fish to the explorer’s camp on Christmas Eve. “It was God’s will Continue reading First Christmas in California