Chinese New Year

Main altar Chinese Temple Rocky River 1908
Main altar in what is believed to be one of the Rocky River temples, photographed around 1908. Photo from private collection, reproduced in Golden Threads, p. 87.

Chinese New Year in 2021 begins on 12 February. Back in 1880, Chinese New Year’s Day fell on 10 February. A few weeks earlier, the Uralla Times reported that a new joss house was officially dedicated at Rocky River. The opening of the new joss house was celebrated with a tremendous display of fireworks beginning at midnight.

“The opening ceremonies consisted in the discharge of myriads of crackers and miniature guns, beating of tom toms, gongs and other Celestial discords … the discharge of fireworks had the effect of thoroughly disturbing the usually peaceful slumbers of the European settlers, who at the time scarcely appreciated the somewhat novel manner of dedicating a place of worship. The pyrotechnic display was continued with unabated vigour throughout the following day …”

The reporter described the handsome appearance of the interior furnishings and the feast that followed the fireworks where “everyone was made welcome to the feast and John was profuse in his attentions to the visitors.” (‘John’ refers to the Chinese hosts.)

Janis Wilton’s journal article “The Most Beautiful Joss House: Chinese temples in Emmaville and Tingha”, has a photo of the interior of the Rocky River temple, about 1908.…/5_Wilton_Most%20Beautiful…

Post by Our Chinese Past member, Juanita Kwok