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When a stranger hugged Vancouver Christmas Market organizer Malte Kluetz and gave him a small Slovakian clay pig for good luck, he knew everything was going to be fine.

When a stranger hugged Vancouver Christmas Market organizer Malte Kluetz and gave him a small Slovakian clay pig for good luck, he knew everything was going to be fine.

“I feel great,” Kluetz said yesterday as grills were being fired up with bratwurst and glasses filled with mulled wine.

The German-style Christmas market opened yesterday after an explosion scuttled the scheduled launch four days earlier. The blast occurred after a contractor accidentally drilled into a 100-pound propane tank.

The explosion destroyed one-third of the merchandise in the hut of crystal seller Herwig Sehaub.

“We lost a lot,” said Sehaub, who flew to Vancouver from Germany for the market. “I hope I can sell a bit.”

The outdoor market — filled with German Christmas apparel shops, various chocolate and Bavarian delicacies — is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily until Dec. 24.

Kluetz hopes the 700-year-old German tradition will turn into an annual event in Vancouver.

“Once people get in here and experience it,” Kluetz said, “it’ll just get bigger and bigger.”

 
 
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