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December 2000 - Nr. 12
The best of Seasons from Echo Germanica
Sybille Forster-Rentmeister2000

Dear Reader

The frost killed what was left of our gardens, the elections deadened a lot of our confidence in the democratic process, gasoline prices leave us exasperated, our justice system leaves us spinning, and the school system and striking teachers have us in total disbelieve about their sincerity. What keeps us going are our beloved seasonal customs, our culture, which we readily share with everyone. This year we added already something new to the calendar: The German Pioneers Day. But let me tell you, there is a new trend emerging!

Within our own community we have had Christmas fairs for many decades. As a matter of fact, the first one in Toronto was held at the Danube Swabian Club. Others followed, even very big ones like the one in Casa Loma with many thousands of visitors, or the annual one near the airport.

Then Kitchener burst on the scene with the most authentic version of them all so far, the Christkindl Market. Who can forget that one magic evening when the Concordia Choirs sang in front of City Hall and big lazy snowflakes tumbled down in the light of the huge Christmas tree, melting on our faces and mingling with the tears of joy on our cheeks! As an award winning community event it will be hard to beat. Even Toronto’s Street Fests lost out against the ambiance of this little cultural jewel.

This year we are adding on a Christmas Market in Toronto, right on Nathan Philip Square in front of our famous City Hall. This too is expected and planned to become an annual event. Great care has been taken to make it very authentic event. Everyone is looking forward to this newest edition of German customs to Canada.

We already have the second largest Oktoberfest here in Kitchener. Perhaps we can boast one day that we have the biggest and most authentic Christmas Market here too. And the emphasis should always be on authentic. This means that the public wants to see Christmas related merchandise, services, food and entertainment; not a sampling of industrial opportunities and goods that would fit better into other shows and exhibits.

Even in Germany some odd and tasteless things have been spotted at Christmas Markets, such as Easter bunnies dressed up as Santa Clause, with porno mags in the background. I am not kidding! There really are no guarantees for good taste, or what we consider appropriate. But in this age of "anything goes" it is perhaps time we start out with a few rules to the game. If they are known then all will have fun and be satisfied. Let us hope there will be no disappointments.

Actually I am not worried at all, but I am saying what many people have told me. The more the rules change, the values with some consideration for some decency disappear, and the more people are searching and reaching out for alternatives, also in the political arena. We know why the election was called so early: In a year the Alliance would have accumulated more support, especially in the finances. They would have been able to make much more of an effort to convince the people of this nation that change is ripe. The population at heart knows that two much power too long in one quarter does not spell democracy any more. But often people cannot change their minds quickly enough. Only when the situation has become bad enough, is no longer bearable, do they protest and accept change readily.

As I am writing this I have to ask: Are we going to wake up on Tuesday to a brave new world with some good old-fashioned values, or will everything be the same? And as you read this you will know the answer.

Let us not forget that history shows that people always end up with the government they deserve. The government they choose or allow to exist reflects the degree of their awareness and understanding of what really goes on around them. And if we have bad government, well, then not enough of us were smart enough to do something about it. Then we have failed democracy and no one to blame but ourselves.

On the lighter side I wish all of you a wonderful and celebratory time. The season of the lights is upon us, when we light up what needs to come out of the shadows.

Until next time.

Sybille Forster-Rentmeister

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As the editor of Echo Germanica Sybille reflects on cultural, artistic, political and daily events within the German-Canadian landscape.
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Sybille Forster-Rentmeister, editor, editor-in-chief of Echo Germanica, comments, cultural, artistic, political, daily events, German-Canadian, Toronto, Ontario, Canada,

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