From the Archive: Holidays Past

Beyond twisting strings of light around the fronds of palm trees, Los Angeles is a diversely festive city that has always taken an active part in this season’s many multicultural celebrations. Here’s a look back through the Los Angeles Public Library’s Photo Collection at how Angelenos have historically celebrated Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Christmas.

Lighting Hanukkah Candles Yaniv, aged 3, fourth child from left, with friends, lighting Hannukah candles at the Jewish kindergarten in London. Part of Shades of L.A., an archive of photographs representing the contemporary and historic diversity of families in Los Angeles, this photo is dated 1962.

Hannukah Advertising Sal Mineo and Frank Fott, Regional Manager of Foster and Kleiser Outdoor Advertising, pose next to a public service message billboard urging people to buy State of Israel bonds for free tickets to a Festival to be held Sunday, December 15 of an unidentified year, at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.


Kwanzaa Parade Participants of the participants, including local resident Majaliwa (left of center), at the annual Kwanzaa Parade. Approximately a hundred participants took part in the parade despite the rain and low turnout. The parade started at Exposition and Crenshaw boulevards, and ended at Leimert Park. Local stores, including New York Pants, are present in the background. Photograph dated December 31, 1988.


Ruddy Elf Arrives by Rickshaw caption dated December 22, 1987 partially reads, “Arriving for the first time in public relations history by rickshaw, Santa Claus had to cool it with the ‘On, Dancer, On, Prancer’ stuff when he hit Chinatown in the person-drawn vehicle yesterday. He brought gifts including popcorn and candy for the Asian-American children at Castellare [sp] Elementary school. In return, the kids serenaded St. Nicholas with carols at a party organized by merchants on Gin Ling Way.” Photo by Mike Mullen.


Danish Christmas Party
Photograph article dated December 3, 1964 partially reads, “The authentic Danish Christmas party was given by Peter F. Heering, fifth generation president of the company producing that famous Cherry Heering liqueur. His great great grandfather (a contemporary and acquaintance of Hans Christian Andersen) started the company’s wonderful custom of treating underprivileged children. Tuesday’s guests were 40 kids from Hollygrove Children’s Home and the East Los Angeles Boys Club. They were introduced to the lovely Danish Christmas traditions and given a boatload of imported presents.”

Search more of the many historical photos in the Library’s collection here. Happy holidays from the Library Foundation!

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