Chinese New Year, 1905.



“Kung he fat choy!”

It always rains on Chinese New Year. Which is a mercy. Because, if it did not, all kinds of things that result from playing with fire would be likely to happen. They began happening at midnight last night, with a great and long-continued noise. At the first the whistles blew at the hour of twelve sharp. That was the signal. Then a fiery pandemonium broke forth, and raged up and down all through the Asiatic quarter of the town, from Nuuanu to  River street…

(Hawaiian Gazette, 2/3/1905, p. 1)


Hawaiian Gazette, Volume XL, Number 10, Page 1. February 3, 1905.

…and beyond, and on all the cross streets where the sons of the Central Flowery Kingdom, who make their homes in Honolulu, have their abiding place.

There had been a subdued note of preparation all through the quarter in the earlier hours of the evening. The streets were thronged with well-dressed Chinese, who moved about with an air of men who are getting ready. The stores were swept as clean as clean, and hung all about with long red banners upon which were cabalistic inscriptions. Large red and white lanterns, larger red and white lanterns that can be seen anywhere outside of China, swung in the wind before the shops and stores, and as night came shops and stores, and as night came down these were seen to hold twinkling electric lights. What would they say, in China, to electric lights in Chinese paper lanterns? The club houses showed gorgeous effects in white and colored incandescent globes, and noiseless servants—and even these in gala dress—moved about with that same air of mysterious preparation.

“No can tell anything,” one of these said, to an early evening caller. “You come back midnight, look see!”

Every household in town that has a Chinese servant prepared itself to rustle for its meals during the three days that will be devoted to the celebration. Chinese household servants who are prized are prized sufficiently to make the household subject itself to this annual discomfort while he celebrates. Also, he will bring back to the people of the household strange and valuable presents of silk, and confections that will cause the young of the white men to dream of fiery dragons and all sorts of uncouth monsters when it is taken into the insides of them.

At midnight the visitor returned to the club house to “look see!” but really it was not necessary to tell him that was the hour fixed for the opening of the celebration—not after it was opened.

When the whistles blew, every Chinaman in town who was true to the traditions of his fatherland, and every one who had the price, seemed to be engaged in setting off strings of fire crackers that were punctuated at nerve racking intervals with bombs. The truer he was to his traditions, the more often he started the fiery strings to writhing, and the more money he had the more and larger were the bombs he burned. Some of the larger Chinese stores kept the thing up for hours, filling the night with spitting fire and the atmosphere with a most infernal smell of sulphur and burned powder.

As a noisy celebration it opened most successfully, and as a smelly one it left nothing to be desired. The club houses, which had been the quietest and the lightest places in town ten minutes before the time set for the celebration, became at once the noisiest; and many club men in silken robes stood there to welcome the friends, Chinese and American and natives, who poured in upon them from midnight on and offered their congratulations and best wishes. The New Year is a season when a Chinaman pays his debts and feels at peace with all the world, and when nothing that he has or can buy is too good for his friends. There were elaborate spreads at the clubs, liquid and other refreshments, and cigars for all, and all who came were made welcome.

Today, the merchants of the city will receive their friends, and pay their own New Year call, and there will be a general suspension of all but the most necessary business in the Chinese stores. There will be numerous receptions held in various parts of Chinatown.

At 11 a. m. the Quon On Society will Hold a reception to which the public is invited.

The Chinese Consul Mr. Chang Tso Fan, will not hold his official reception at the Consulate until Saturday, beginning at noon on that day.

The celebration will conclude on Sunday night.

Open house will be kept by the Yee Kee Tong occupying the big clubhouse at the corner of Maunakea and Hotel streets. A general invitation is extended to the public between 12 and 1.

(Hawaiian Gazette, 2/3/1905, p. 5)


Hawaiian Gazette, Volume XL, Number 10, Page 5. February 3, 1905.


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