Picture yourself on an evening stroll with a toque about your head, and a scarf around your neck. Despite the winter’s chill that surrounds you, your hands are kept warm from the contents of your mug. The scent of cinnamon and apples waft through the air, and your path is guided by the luminous glow of Christmas lights. Such warm and fuzzy feelings can only be experienced this time of the year.. at the Christmas Market!
Traditions of the classic Christmas Market go back centuries in Europe, predominantly in Germany and Austria. During the four weeks of Advent, the traditional Christmas is celebrated with displays of the nativity as well as vendors of baked goods, beverages, handmade crafts, and (most importantly) food.
For the past few years in Vancouver, British Columbia, it’s become an annual tradition to have our very own Christmas Market beginning in late November and through to Christmas day. Although Vancouver’s Christmas Market is relatively small and pales in comparison to the more traditional ones you’d expect to find in Europe, it does offer several intriguing seasonal treats that I look forward to each year. It was difficult for us to narrow down the list, but here are five things you should expect, visit or try when visiting Vancouver’s Christmas Market.
The Christmas Market is your one-stop shop for Christmas tree decorations. One can expect to find a variety of ornaments made from ceramics to glass. Each ornament is uniquely crafted, hand painted and is as authentically European as it gets. Our favourites were the hand carved and painted wood ornaments from the little town of Seiffen, Germany. Their intricate designs and attention to detail is very admirable.
(Dankie vir die gesprekke en foto Charmain!)
Leave it to the brass band playing Christmas carols to help usher in the festive spirit! Located in the central pagoda is the performance stage which will often feature a live band and folk dancers. It is music that truly brings the entire market to life and it’s great to witness people of all ages gathered around the band for a listen. I couldn’t help but tap my feet and hum the carols at times.
Consider your assimilation into the German culture to be incomplete if you haven’t tried a schnitzel. There are three variations you can order at the Christmas Market from the one stand that sells them: the Jager, German, or wrap. The “Jager Schnitzel”, albeit on the pricier side of things, will gladly satisfy your taste buds. It’s hard to keep your eyes off this dish – especially when it’s drizzled in a sauteed mushroom gravy, topped with herbs and served with a side of potato salad. Might I also suggest a fresh pretzel from the “Brezel-Haus” and some potato soup? It’s a great way to top off your meal!
What’s everybody holding in their hands? What’s that smell? You only need to spend 5 minutes (or less) inside the market until you notice everyone munching down on a fresh bratwurst sausage in a bun. If you have trouble locating the hut that sells them, just look for skillet with rows of various sausages. Ask the gentleman with the thick German accent to top your order off with some grilled onions and sauerkraut and I guarantee you won’t be able to put the darn thing down. I look forward to getting my hands on one of these every year!
5. Visit “Das Apfelhaus”
Another thing you might notice is everyone walking around sipping a hot beverage from a mug. It could be Glühwein (mulled wine), or it could be apple cider. If there’s one tasty drink (asides from coffee) that will help warm you up during the winter, an apple cider would be it. I recommend a visit to the “Das Apfelhaus”. Your cider will come with a thin slice of apple and a stick of cinnamon! Furthermore, to truly complete your visit to the Vancouver Christmas Market, order yourself a classic “bratäpfel” for dessert. The picture sums it up, but in case you’re wondering, this hot apple is a traditional German dessert packed with walnuts, raisins, brown sugar, cinnamon, and drizzled with hot vanilla sauce. (Reminded us of the apple pastry we enjoyed in Stortorget). YUM!
To learn more about the Vancouver Christmas Market, click the link HERE.
Note: The Vancouver Christmas Market is cash only, there is a $4 deposit fee per mug (which you may choose to keep or return for your deposit), and you can receive free re-entry until Christmas if you register your initial entry ticket within 24 hours of purchase.