From the archives: San Diego has celebrated New Years for greater than a century

The Year of the Ox is celebrated this weekend as Asian communities across San Diego and around the world welcome the Lunar New Year. Many of this year’s public events are taking place online.

This is how the Chinese New Year was celebrated in the distant past of San Diego.

From The Evening Tribune, Friday February 12, 1926:


New year – new life – new happiness – all new!

Tonight is New Years Eve in Chinatown. The passing of the year 4868 and the coming of the year 4869 are celebrated in the usual Chinese fashion – feats, exchanges of courtesies and the shooting of countless fireworks

In many ways, the Chinese New Year beats the American. Not only does their numbering system surpass our system by 2943 years, but their celebration lasts 15 days instead of just one. As a result, the Chinese celebrate 15 times as much each year.

San Diego Chinatown is ready for the trial. All kinds of supplies from roast pork to Chinese sweets to streaming banners and red fireworks are available. However, one feature of the celebration of the old days will be missing. There is no mention of the name Volstead in the Chinese religion and no substitute for the liquid refreshments previously used has been found. As a result, the famous Chinese wine, which has the authority of a congressional act and three militia companies, will be absent – at least from the publicly set tables.

From the San Diego Union and Daily Bee, Thursday February 1, 1900

Bombs and fireworks

A terrible noise yesterday.


The display exceeded everything in recent years – large crowds were recently close to sightseeing – dispute over the date.

Chinese New Year celebrations in San Diego described on February 1, 1900.

(The San Diego Union)

The Chinese New Year was celebrated in a patriotic manner by several Chinatown merchants yesterday afternoon. More than 100,000 fireworks exploded in less than half an hour, and to add to the terrible noise, bombs and cannon fireworks were thrown into them. There was a constant rattle and roar, and those who heard it thought it would never end.

The main celebrant was Quong Mow Yuen, who runs a restaurant according to the American plan. Obviously his business had been doing well over the past year, or he was anxious to bring more luck in the next twelve months, as his fireworks topped something similar for a few years. He hung long chains of fireworks from the roof of his porch and applied the punk. As soon as one string was turned into paper, another string was set on fire and this was maintained until seven of the long strings, each with 10,000 fireworks, were gone. In addition, huge bombs were exploded, shaking the ground for meters, and bundles of large fireworks were thrown into it to make noise. The display attracted a large crowd. Before and after this ad, long chains of crackers exploded in other parts of Chinatown, but none of the vendors came close to Quon’s ad in terms of length or noise. The scraps of paper in front of the restaurant were a few inches deep …

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