By Adam A., Visitor Host
This past Thursday was Oshawa’s annual Bright and Merry Market. The Oshawa Museum was able to participate in this year’s event, staffing a booth along Bagot Street by the Library. In our Victorian costumes we hosted ornament decorating and promoted the Museum’s Lamplight Tours, which will be held this year on December 3.
The Bright and Merry Market is not the most traditional of Christmas Markets. It is an outgrowth of the City’s annual tree lighting ceremony, a tradition dating back over thirty years. Outdoor tree lighting ceremonies are a tradition that began in the 1920s when electrification was becoming widespread and became more widespread in the decades following the Second World War. Nonetheless, it still featured, food, song, dance, open air stalls, and ample festive spirit.
Christmas markets are part of a much older tradition. The tradition of holding a festive market in late November or early December originates in southeastern Germany and Austria during the late middle ages (ca. 1300-1500). The practice became wide spread throughout the German speaking lands during the Early Modern Period (ca. 1453-1789). These “Christkindlesmarkts” would typically be held to usher in the liturgical season of Advent.
The large influx of German immigrants in the 1800s brought the tradition to North America. Accordingly, these German Christmas Markets can be found in many cities and towns across the continent. Here in Ontario, the most largest example of these more traditional Christmas markets can be found in Kitchener, which had been settled by Germans and was known as Berlin prior to being renamed during the First World War.
Given the presence of a German community in Oshawa, it should be no surprise that a traditional Christmas market can be found here too. Club Loreley, the local German community’s cultural club, has held an annual Christmas market for over 50 years. This event will be running once more this Sunday, November 20.
Club Loreley, originally the German Canadian Club Oshawa, was established in 1955. Its members purchased a plot of land in 1957 upon which their clubhouse would be built and opened in 1961. Since then they have been regular participants in Oshawa’s Fiesta Week tradition and hold all manner of German cultural functions, of which the Christmas market is just one, through out the year.
To learn more about the influx of German immigrants and other groups into Oshawa following the Second World War, stop by the Museum to view our Leaving Home Finding Home in Oshawa exhibit.