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20 years of Christkindlmarkt in Pembroke

By Celina Ip

2017 Miss Oktoberfest Christina Schramm poses with Santa Claus at the Germania Club's Christkindlmarkt on Friday.

2017 Miss Oktoberfest Christina Schramm poses with Santa Claus at the Germania Club's Christkindlmarkt on Friday.


 For the past 20 years, the Germania Club has been recreating Germany's beloved Christkindlmarkt right here in Pembroke.

It was more than 700 years ago that the first Christmas market was held in Munich, Germany. Now, the Christkindlmarkt is a traditional Christmas market that takes over the streets in Germany during November and December of each year. The yuletide event showcases all kinds of vendors that sell everything from unique Christmas gifts and decorations to an assortment of savoury and sweet foods, drinks and treats.

Here in Pembroke, the Germania Club’s passionate committee members decided to bring a piece of their culture to the local community by founding the Ottawa Valley’s very first Christkindlmarkt in 1997.

Now a mainstay that takes over the Germania Club (15 Bennett St.) each November, the local Christkindlmarkt has grown exponentially over the years.

Seeing an average of 3,5000 shoppers each year, this 20th Christkindlmarkt welcomed over 50 vendors and a whopping 4,600 shoppers.

Germania Club President Jason Pape said these markets have been a part of Germany since the 1300s, and the Germania Club is proud to continue the tradition here, even in a small way. He said its success comes from the vendors, the public and the team of volunteers on the market committee who organized it and work hard to ensure it runs smoothly.

“This is a tradition that's been going on here for 20 years, but these type of markets go back to over 700 years ago to the middle ages where the first Christmas market recorded in history is from Munich in 1310,” said Pape. “So this is nothing new, this is something European that we've brought here to Canada because we're a German club and we thought we'd do the same thing here.”

Doors officially opened on Nov. 24 with a special ribbon-cutting ceremony and the event remained a popular destination as shoppers checked off items of their Christmas list until the doors closed late on Sunday afternoon.

“It's such a thrill to be here for the 20th year and I want to not only thank the committee members, but the entire Germania Club and community here in the valley who brought this wonderful new tradition to Pembroke. It really is a tradition after 20 years and let's keep it going for another 100 years,” said MP Cheryl Gallant at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The 50-plus vendors were stationed both inside and outside the hall, selling all kinds of unique crafts, including stained glass, wheel-thrown pottery, hand-painted Christmas ornaments, jewellery, fleece slippers and intarsia woodcrafts. Along with the artisan works, there were a number of bakers selling all kinds of Christmas sweets, German cakes, gingerbread, fruit cake and a variety of jellies and other preserves.

Jolly old St. Nick himself was also present to greet kids at the door and welcome them into his sleigh for photo opportunities.

“This Christmas market is really really close to what we have in Germany and it's an amazing place to go and I'm really happy to be a part of the Germania Club this year to help out,” said Christina Schramm, 2017 Miss Oktoberfest.

According to Pape, the 20th annual Christkindlmarket was another delightful success and he looks forward to the Germania Club hosting many more markets for years to come.

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