The Christmas Market

When I lived in Germany, I would take in a half dozen Christmas markets each year. I didn’t limit myself to only German ones – I also checked out markets in France and Austria.

That of course was pre-pandemic. I’m not sure how many Christmas markets were permitted to operate this year. I know in 2020 there were none. Except in Ottawa.

I can’t remember if Ottawa’s European-style market was started in 2019 or perhaps the year before, but it was while we were living overseas. I had never been until last weekend. I remember from news reports that it started small, but now there are about 80 stalls – which is still small by European standards.

I’m not convinced that wearing masks at an outdoor event during a pandemic really reduces the spread of COVID-19. Especially since you are exempted from the mask requirement while eating or drinking on-site. But this is not the time to point out the silliness of so many pandemic rules.

For some reason, it seems whenever I go to a Christmas market it is windy. Which, coupled with the mask, made my visit last weekend a less pleasant experience.

Still, I enjoyed the market. It did feel very much like a European one, with family-friendly entertainment and plenty of places to have seasonal photos taken. The booths, a mixture of food, drink and crafts, were somewhat interesting (and probably would have been more interesting if I wa in a shopping mood, which I wasn’t).

The prices for the craft offerings were high, but handmade stuff doesn’t come cheap – and you can make a strong case that it is better quality. I was tempted by a wooden pizza cutter/spatula, but I don’t really need one. In theory I am trying to declutter.

I probably would have bought the expensive perogies, but they were sold out when I was there. Given that it was a short visit with dinner scheduled shortly afterward, I resisted the temptation to sample other foods.

In Europe, one of the big attractions of the Christmas markets is the hot mulled wine. I was told the Ottawa version was more lukewarm than hot. I wouldn’t know – the idea of mulled win appeals to me even less than coffee – and I don’t drink coffee.

I did note though that mulled wine in Ottawa costs almost three times as much as it did in Sulzburg. There’s a huge difference between the price of alcohol in Europe and in Canada.

Wednesday is the last day for the 2021 Ottawa Christmas Market, so if you were planning on going, you’ll have to hurry. As for me, I think I will probably go again next year, if only to bring back memories of happy times in Europe.

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