Yreka Enjoys Chinese New Year in 1903 Yreka, Calif.

Feb 8, 2017

Like many other gold rush communities in Northern California, Yreka had a substantial Chinese community complete with gaming houses, shops, washhouses, butcher shops, opium dens, a hotel, and a Joss House.  Though the Chinese faced prejudice and discrimination throughout the region, sometimes the whole community came together, particularly during the annual Chinese New Year celebration.

An article in the Yreka Journal of Feb. 13, 1903, reported on that year’s celebration and parade, describing a lively procession through town of flag-carrying men, women and children dressed in traditional dress and playing musical instruments. 

The Journal said, in these words, “The Chinese residents of Yreka gave a fine pyrotechnic display on the banks of Yreka Creek...which was witnessed by a large gathering of people. The Chinese stores and houses were illuminated for the occasion, and the Chinese band, including ear splitting gongs, drums, etc., furnished plenty of racket to help out the explosion of firecrackers, bombs and rockets.” 

The newspaper said scaffolds of fireworks imported from China formed fiery representations of men, peacocks, and whirling rockets.  The grand finale featured a figure of a harp and an exploding display of lights 25 feet above the ground.

Source: “Celebrations.” Siskiyou Pioneer and Yearbook. No. 9 ed. Vol. 4. Yreka: Siskiyou County Historical Society, 1976. 75-80. Print.