„Alle Jahre wieder"...The Gingerbread Explosion
One of the many joys of the Christmas Season – especially for the European Canadians – must be the fond memory of the delicious baked goods such as Speculatius Cookies, Domino Steine and Lebkuchen – or Gingerbread - that were dominant mainly during the festive season of years past.
One of the best-known Gingerbread Manufacturers for the last 80 years is the "Lebkuchen Schmidt" in Nuremberg, Germany and "Gingerbread World" in Winnipeg - is the company that imports those delicious treats to Canada, baked fresh, from Nuremberg each year.
Gingerbread has been part of the traditional European Christmas for generations and is sure to create lasting memories for you and your loved-ones here as well..
The packaging of the products is important, since they have to travel a long way, it is equally – if not more – important that the packaging is attractive and suitable as a gift for friends and relatives. Each year a number of new ways to package these goodies is found. Mostly the well-known metal chests – wonderfully decorated - are offered but also newcomers are being offered such as the book chest that can grace any library even when it has been emptied, a music box that plays ‘Alle Jahre wieder’, a ‘Christmas Card’ filled with gingerbread; and some of the standard tins have new assortments in them. Even when they are empty they can still be utilized to store many other loved items for many years to come, in picturesque splendour.
If you are interested – and how can one not be – go to their website:www.gingerbread-world.com and ask for their latest catalogue, or phone 1-800-309-5559 (Fax: 204-338-5295) you can also use the ad in this issue of the paper. But do it soon while there is still a variety available, and not every one of the offered items is on the ad either. Last year they ran out of most of the gingerbread long before Christmas.
Mardi Gras Season is open again!
The 1. KG Ascendia celebrated it on the last Saturday at the Continental Austrian Club in Burlington. It was the young Carnival Society’s 8th ‘Opening’ and the first time that a DJ was used instead of a regular band – to mixed reactions, as Cornel Brüggeman said. But the dance floor was always hopping and the dancers didn’t seem to mind.
Some of the visiting Societies were the Treue Husaren from Toronto and Mississauga, the 1. KG Narragonia from Brantford, the Ontario Prinzengarde and the KG Narrenzunft from Kitchener - who also brought their future ‘Princess’ along. Mona and her ‘Prince’ will be installed at the Concordia Club on the 17th of November. It is about time that we get a ‘Royal Couple’ again!
Cornel also mentioned that due to illness and many of the old-timers passing on, the attendance was not as great as usual.
For entertainment the group performed a "Dick& Doof" (Laurel & Hardy) sketch that was very well received. Unfortunately there were no ‘Guard Dances’ since there are hardly any societies left that maintain a girl guard.
Until the next time,
Alaaf and Helau from the Ascendia, Hamilton.
Olé – Mexico
One ethnic group that is frequently overlooked are our Mexicans in Toronto. All that changed on the first weekend of November when they celebrated the "Day of the Dead" at the Harbourfront in Toronto.
The Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) is a holiday celebrated mainly in Mexico and the Mexican community living in the US and Canada, with variations also observed in other Latin American countries and other parts of the world (basically in all catholic communities on the planet, the Editor). The Mexican celebration occurs on November 1st (All Saints’ Day) and November 2nd (All Souls’ Day).
Though the subject matter may be considered morbid from the perspective of some other cultures, celebrant typically approach the Day of the Dead joyfully, and though it occurs roughly at the same time as Halloween, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, the traditional mood is much brighter – with emphasis on celebrating and honouring the lives of the deceased. Revellers on the Day of the Dead celebrate the continuation of life – believing not that death is the end, but rather the beginning of a new stage in life. It is a day of particular cultural importance – also in Europe.
The Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico can be traced back to the indigenous people such as the Olmec, Zapotec, Mixtec, Mexica, Maya and others. Rituals celebrating the death of ancestors have been observed by these civilizations perhaps for as long as 2500 – 3000 years.
The festival that became the modern Day of the Dead fell in the ninth month of the Aztec calendar, about the beginning of August, and was celebrated for an entire month. The festivities were dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl, known as the "Lady of the Dead".
During the period of November 1st and 2nd, families usually visit, clean and decorate the graves with their offerings.
A common symbol of the holiday is the skull (colloquially called calavera), which celebrants represent in masks, called calacas (skeletons) and foods such as sugar skulls, which are inscribed with the name of the recipient on the forehead. Sugar skulls are gifts that can be given to both – the living and the dead! Other holiday foods include pan de muerto, a sweet egg bread made in various shapes, from plain rounds to skulls and rabbits often decorated with white frosting to look like twisted bones. The skulls are made of sugar or chocolate.
The traditional folk-art of making sugar skulls was also demonstrated this weekend by guest artist Gerardo Sánchez Acevedo from Mexico with liquid sugar and moulds that absorb the moisture and reveal a sugar skull that can be decorated with icing, pieces of bright foil, coloured pens or coloured sugars. Ready-made skulls, decorations and other goodies were available from many vendors at the Harbourfront centre’s West Arcade.
Other entertainment included the displays of altars in the Community Space, Café Mexico, the film ‘Hasta Los Huesos’ (Down to the Bone), music by Tequila tor, Kid’s Workshop operated by the Mexican Social and Cultural Foundation, wonderfully expressive dance performances by the Mexican Folkloric Dance Company, music by the Eugenio Toussant Jazz Trio and - last but not least – cooking demonstrations by Chef Antonio Romero from the El Jacal Restaurant, who wowed a large audience with tasty treats at the Lakeside Terrace.
Some of dishes offered were Pozole, Calabaza en Tacha (great around Halloween and the abundance of pumpkins), Carne a la Mexicana (my favourite), Rice and Refried Beans. The restaurant is at 1056 Bloor St. West, in Toronto – 416-244-4447 - or check out the Restaurant Guide in Toronto Life for a unique and affordable dining experience.
This event is also scheduled at about the same time next year – if you want to make a note of that.
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