Wo ist der German Christmas Market?

Wo ist der German Christmas Market?

What better way to get in the Christmas spirit than to visit Quebec City’s own German Christmas Market? I arrived early on Saturday morning and was given a tour by Ameli Optenberg, she handles coordination and logistics for La Communauté Allemande de Québec. Optenberg told me that German Christmas markets are usually set up in town squares and this year, for the first time, Quebec City is no exception. Following German tradition, the Christmas market is located between City Hall and the Notre-Dame de Quebec Basilica-Cathedral, something Optenberg says “Quebec City residents are ready for.”

Ameli Optenberg welcoming everyone to the German Christmas Market, Quebec City, 2011

Thanks to the work of the Quebec City German community and volunteers, the Christmas Market has grown both in size and popularity since it first started four years ago. Optenberg helped coordinate the construction of the 26 sturdy, wood hewn booths, each one boasting impressive imports from Germany. “It’s a complicated process to get German products such as glühwein (mulled wine) and Nuremburg gingerbread shipped over in time for the market,” says Optenberg. “We have to start six months in advance”. She admits that finding vendors is the easy part. “With 20,000 visitors last year, there’s a list of people just waiting to be a part of the Quebec City German Christmas Market”.

I was introduced to Arne Schneider, a student from Frankfurt, Germany here on a three month exchange with Laval University. Schneider, who played the role of Saint Nicolas at the opening ceremony, is pleased with the market. “I was missing real German culture and I won’t be going back to Germany until December 24.” Equally impressed is vendor Eva Bernth Castonguay, the owner of Little Cool Toys. Castonguay moved to Quebec City from Denmark five years ago and it is her first year selling at the market. “It’s the closest you can get to being in another community,” says Castonguay.

I was anxious to sample the tastes that the Christmas Market had to offer. I warmed up with a steaming cup of glühwein. That was followed by some reibekuche, a potato and apple pancake from the Rhine River region served with apple sauce. And to finish things off, I had bratwurst on a bun. German sausages taste great because, as I was learned, they are first cooked, then smoked and finally grilled. Brezels are another German delicacy being sold at the market. Brezels are Bavarian-style pretzels are large, soft and warm and have little in common with the crunchy pretzels we have here in Canada. The brezel booth sold 250 on their first day.

There is a German proverb that goes, “Alles hat ein Ende, nur die Wurst hat zwei,” which translates to “Everything has an end, only sausage has two” or in other words, everything must come to an end. Unfortunately, the Quebec City German Christmas Market must come to end, but thanks to Quebec City’s German community, it will be back again next year!

Categories: Events

About Author

Jason Enlow

Jason Enlow is a Special Education Technician at an English elementary school. He was born in Montreal, Quebec and grew up in Burlington, Ontario. Jason studied Radio and Television at Ryerson University in Toronto. His previous employers include CityTV, CBC, The Weather Network, and Global Television. He’s worked as a DJ, camera operator, musician, teacher, translator and video game content designer. Jason moved to Quebec City in 1997 where he still lives today with his wife and three sons.