Chicago Tribune -- February 06, 1891High Day in Chinatown The Celestial New Year Begins Saturday, at Midnight
Saturday at midnight every self-respecting Mongolian in Chinatown will set fire to his Joss Stick and burn the same under his photograph of his Joss. Teachers in Chinese Sunday Schools will find their customary quota of pupils absent.
The young laundrymen may have developed much grace during the last year, but it is to be doubted whether a fair percentage are so far rockrooted in their new faith and acquired virtues to devoted any part of next Sunday to a study of the Gospels.
Sunday is the beginning of the Chinaman's New-Year. Clark Street, in the vicinity of Harrison, will be joyous. It will be a gorgeous glow of red -literally and figuratively. It is the custom of the meek and lowly disciple of Confuscius to become gay on the occasion of a new year.2
He drinks plenteously, eats largely, and further expresses his general satisfaction with himself and the world in which he lives by hanging his banners on the outer walls, so that all may know that the Chinaman is happy. These ensigns are of rice paper, a bright crimson, and bear upon them legends not unlike the stories blazoned on the outside of chests of tea. The purport of these sentiments no man except the Chinese people know, and they decline to give a translation, so that the sentiments may be seditious, critical of duly appointed officials, adverse to the World's Columbian Exposition, or otherwise unfit for publication, and no one be the wiser. There is where the cleanser of linen has upon the situation the "cinch" so to say.
The observation in its various places will be drawn out for a period of two or three weeks, according to the constitution and bank roll of the celebrant. The opulent and plungers: extends their festivities to great length, the prudent and those of little wealth must of necessity return to the boiler or the cigar makers table sooner.3
It is proposed this year by the few literary inclined to give a few charades and amateur theatricals in a convenient Clark Street basement. Each act will require from one and a half to four days with intermissions for slumber and meals in its presentation.
Great preparations have been made for the great preparations of joy, and large stocks of salt fish, young pigs, rice, gin and American liquor of red; together with the unaccustomed invoices of pigeons, have been taken by the grocery-man of Chinatown inenticipation of the time of feasting.
All interrogatories were ignored, and the utmost that could be obtained was the advice to go ask Sholly Kee, with the suggestion sometimes added that Mr. Kee was loaded with information on New-Year and all other subjects.4
Charles Kee is a man of about 30 years, who keeps a cigar factory at 327 South Clark Street. He is without question the best-educated Chinaman in Chicago. The present merry-making, he says, is the commemoration of the beginning of the eighteenth year of the reigning Emperor of China. Years are reckoned according to the lives of Princes and durations of dynasties. Quong Soi, Joss gratia, is the potentate in whose honor his subject of Chicago, of whom there are about 3000, will tamper with their stomachs,
There will be no Fire-works according to Mr. Kee, because the authorities will not permit such display. But the soothing extract of the poppy will burn, tobacco will be reduced to ashes and barrels of gin and medicine wine" perish from off the earth. All outstanding claims will be paid, or surety given for their future settlement. It is a time for business with Chinamen, as well as a time for sport and it is part of their religion, which is to a large extent based on business principles, to square accounts at the beginning of another year.5
The merry round of visits will be made, the limit taken off fan-tan, and dominoes played wide open and for blood. Larger number of pictures of the god just now in vogue have been made. The chromos are dreams of color - absolute nightmares, and would make the art connoisseurs of the institute insane.
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