Watching the skilled Blacksmiths demonstrate their trade, is a must-do activity at Christkindl Market. We missed them this year. We're hoping to see Sean, Wolfgang and many of the other blacksmiths again next year!
Skilled artisans such as blacksmiths brought their Christmas traditions with them from Europe in the 1700s. As they migrated across North America in the 1800s, many of these traditions came to shape how Christmas was and is celebrated in the United States and Canada. Read more history below.
A 1914 photograph of a young blacksmith working in his shop
Many of the Christmas traditions celebrated across North America were greatly influenced by the German and Dutch-speaking populations in Pennsylvania. Often referred to as Pennsylvania- Dutch, and known for their skilled artisans such as blacksmiths, tinsmiths, potters and cabinetmakers, they brought their Christmas traditions with them from Europe in the 1700s. As they migrated across North America in the 1800s, many of these traditions came to shape how Christmas was and is celebrated in the United States.
Traditions include Belsnickel – after the German character Pelznickel – who questions children about their behaviour; Belsnickling – when people wear a costume and mask, and go door-to-door entertaining neighbours in exchange for a treat; Kriss Kringle in the 1840s – after Christkindl in Germany – who brings presents for children; and the Christmas Putz – after the Moravian tradition of placing a Nativity scene and landscape in the home, often at the base of the Christmas tree.
Want to know more about Christmas traditions in Pennsylvania? Ask your local library to borrow:
Christmas in Pennsylvania: A Folk-Cultural Study, written by Alfred L. Shoemaker. The book was originally published in 1959 but it has been republished, most recently by Globe Pequot in 2019.
Holidays: Victorian Women Celebrate in Pennsylvania, written by Nada Gray, published by Pennsylvania State University Press in 1983.
Founded as a men’s choir in 1873, the Concordia Choirs today also includes a mixed choir as well as children’s choir. The choirs grew in stature under the early direction of Alfred Kuntz who continued as conductor until his retirement in 2015. Martin Anderle took over the position in 2015. Martin encourages the best from both music and singers. The choirs now number around 80 members.
Drawing from their extensive repertoire of both traditional and popular German and Canadian music, the choirs perform regularly. They have toured Canada as well as the United States. They have also done several European tours, the most recent in 2016 to Germany.
Rehearsals are Monday evenings at the Concordia Club, 429 Ottawa Street South, Kitchener. New singers in all sections are welcomed to join us.