Oh what joy, for a girl or boy to receive a toy at Christmas.
Regardless of the generation, everyone has a memory of a favourite toy received at Christmas. Whether the gift was brought by St. Nicholas, Christkindl or Santa Claus, its memory rekindles recollections of the joy and excitement that children experience at Christmas. The Bible tells us that the Magi, or Wise Men, brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh upon the birth of Jesus. But when did other children start receiving gifts, particularly toys, at Christmas?
St. Nicholas was known in his lifetime for his generosity, in particular giving gifts to people in need and he is the patron saint of children – so he is credited with beginning the practice. But it’s not obvious from the historical record when people started to give gifts to children at Christmas; in about the year 400 it was noted in a church sermon that gift-giving was making children selfish so it had begun at least by then. Gifts for children were being given in Medieval Europe. A list of possible gifts for German children includes money, sweets, fruit, and dolls. clothes, books and a Bible.
Advertising for Christmas gifts, especially for children, began in the 1700s. Before the Industrial Revolution of the 1800s, most toys were hand-made but by the 1860s store-bought toys, made in factories, became the norm. And in North America, by the end of the 1800s, toys could be chosen and purchased from mail-order catalogues such as T. Eaton & Co.
Want to reminisce about toys that you or your grandparents wished for or received as a child? Ask your local library to borrow:
Under the Tree: The Toys and Treats that Made Christmas Special, 1930-1965, written by Susan Waggoner, published by Harry N. Abrams in 2007.
Dear Santa: Children’s Christmas Letters and Wish Lists, 1870-1920, published by Chronicle Books in 2015.
The Grand Philharmonic Children’s choir was founded in 1987 and has since been recognized for its excellence in tone and musicianship. This youthful choir provides an opportunity for children to learn a variety of types of music from classical to folk music, to modern music that is representative of many countries and cultures. The children receive training in music literacy, voice production, vocal and choral techniques and personal development. Many singers remain with the Children’s choir throughout their school years. The choir is directed by Andrea DeBoer-Jones.
The choir has also performed with The Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, the K-W Chamber Orchestra, Canadian tenor John McDermott, Kenny Rogers, K’naan and has been heard on radio and television. In the past, the choir has toured throughout Ontario, Michigan, Washington D.C., and has sung at the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. Recently the choir competed at the Ontario Vocal Festival and was recommended to the National Music Festival where they received a silver. In 2014, the choir participated in the Queen City Children’s Music Festival in Cincinnati. The GPCC’s first music CD was produced in 2013 with their own original composition, penned with Jim Papoulis, as the title track, I Will Find an Answer.
Founded in 1993 as the Zion Community Children’s choir, the Youth Choir provides extensive choral training and excellent performance opportunities to singers between ages 14-23. They have become one of the premier youth ensembles in Canada and have competed in national and international competitions and have received many first place honours.
Director Mark Vuorinen maintains a mandate to present choral repertoire at the highest standard as you will see today.
At regular rehearsals, choristers prepare a varied and extensive repertoire list and receive instruction in voice production, theory, sight-singing and ear-training. Singers also attend additional rehearsals for major performances and recordings throughout the season.
Since gaining national recognition by winning first prize in the Mixed Voice Youth Choir category in the prestigious CBC Choir Competition in 2006, the GPYC has become one of the premiere youth choirs in Canada and is often invited to perform great works with local ensembles such as the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, Kitchener-Waterloo Youth Symphony Orchestra and The Wellington Winds. They have recently had the opportunity to perform with Video Games Live and Kenny Rogers at the Centre in the Square and premiered a commissioned work at the Stratford Festival of Canada.
The choir has competed in national and international competitions in the past three years winning first place, Mixed Choirs, at the Summa Cum Laude Choral Festival in Vienna, Austria in 2012. In 2014 they received first place honours at the K-W Kiwanis Festival, Ontario Vocal Fest, Ontario Music Festival Association Provincials and at the Canadian Federation of Music Festivals National Music Festival.
Get in touch or learn more by visiting their website.
Join our online community on Facebook and share your treasured, funny or heartwarming Christmas toy and gift stories.
Nothing means Christmas more than the Nutcracker Suite. Grab a cup of your favourite winter drink and immerse yourself in the timeless story. These Nutcracker books and Nutcracker Suite audio files feature beautiful illustrations in editions from around the world.
Borrow the book or file for an hour when you register for a free login.
Join our very special guest, Mrs. Claus for a special edition of Kids in the Kitchen with Chef Nicole! Watch live on the City of Kitchener Facebook page as Mrs. Claus and Chef Nicole show you how to make the perfect sugar cookies, ready for decorating. Mrs. Claus will also be sharing some of her favourite holiday stories. Keep those tasty holiday traditions alive with the Christkindl and Kitchener Markets! And don’t forget to show us how they turn out! Post to social media using the hashtag #ChristkindlCA and #KitchenerMarket.
For more information about this free online event, visit the Kitchener Market's website.