Legacy of Holiday Joys: Five Special Memories From Ukiah’s Christmas Past


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Over many decades, residents of Ukiah, California have built a unique history celebrating the Christmas season. UHS News dug into local newspaper archives to get a glimpse of some of these many events to build anticipation for this coming Christmas. 

Nearly one century ago, in the year 1927, Foster’s Apartment Store had a Christmas gift sale in the days leading up to the holiday. They advertised gifts for babies, such as tinker dolls and carriage straps. Also listed were plentiful gifts for men and women. The availability of comb sets, memos, and key cases for men was recorded on paper by the night-sky colored ink of a typewriter. Men could buy their mothers, sisters, wives, and female friends sets of sherberts, bedroom slippers in suede or felt, and innumerable other presents. 

The Christmas Season of 1937 was one full of dancing, the exchange of candles the red of mistletoe berries, people coming home. At the old Ukiah High School’s auditorium, the Ukiah Choral Club beautifully performed Handel’s The Messiah, filing the town with Christmas spirit. The A & J Club added a special touch to an afternoon of sewing by partaking in an exchange of presents and fragrant holly. Red candles lit up the room with a warm glow from their flames. High school students ended the calendar year with a dance. The floor was thoughtfully decorated with greenery and a gleaming Christmas tree. 

Churches throughout Ukiah celebrated in charming ways in December of 1965. Saint Mary’s Church held mass at midnight. The walls vibrated with the carried voices of carolers during a procession to the symbolic crib of baby Jesus. Faith Lutheran pastor Reverend Edwin C. Sohn scheduled three Church services on Park Boulevard. On Christmas Eve, he held a service for the children of Ukiah. The Methodist Church held a candlelight communion service. Organ music set the mood of the scene as people approached the tabernacle to receive the body and blood of Jesus Christ on the night of his birth. 

Ukiah High Wildcats gathered in front of Albertson’s Supermarket one December day in 1981 to celebrate the season with melodic Christmas carols. A faded black and white photograph perfectly captures the holiday joys they experienced at that very moment. 

In 1993, local were encouraged to take their families and drive out to one of the area’s numerous Christmas tree farms. The Douglas fir, silver fir, Colorado blue spruce, and Alberta spruce were especially popular. Families bonded over the arduous yet rewarding experience of taking a real tree home for the holidays. 

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