Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts


Media Studies


Smeltzer, Sandra C.


Little research explores the creation of an outdoor Christmas Market, and the role that tradition and nostalgia theory play in this socially constructed space. This thesis offers an examination of the Toronto Christmas Market, an extravagant Christmas-themed pop-up market in Toronto’s Distillery District neighbourhood, and seeks to understand how the design or execution of the market serves to articulate the tropes of tradition and nostalgia. The market’s sizeable attendance for the 2018 season of an estimated 650,000 people is a sheer testament to the merit it has as a social event in a public space. Through a discourse analysis and ethnography of the Toronto Christmas Market’s print advertisements and physical space respectively, this thesis seeks to reveal how the physical design of the Toronto Christmas Market aims to achieve a Christmas ‘just like the one we used to know’, while simultaneously employing phantasmagoric activities to achieve a Christmas like never before. By critically examining and problematizing how the site is constructed, and how the site communicates its presence within a historic space such as the Distillery Historic District, this thesis reveals that the Toronto Christmas Market is both creating and recreating an invented tradition through the use of nostalgic tropes.