2019 Japanese Festival

Yesterday we went to the St. Louis Greek Festival, but on Saturday, we were at the Japanese Festival at the Missouri Botanical Garden…Labor Day weekend is a good time for multi-cultural experiences in St. Louis!

This was the third time we attended the Japanese Festival, so we knew to look for some of our favorite performers, including the amezaiku artist and the top spinner:

We also got to watch an ice carver make a beautiful bird out of a huge block of ice:

There is always so much to see around the garden during the festival!

We didn’t have a full meal while we were there, but we did visit the food court, and shared some steamed pork and egg buns and sakura lemonade while walking around:

For the first time, we got to see a fashion and cosplay show…Kirby was definitely my favorite!

We also caught the parade, which seemed shorter this year.

But the biggest attraction was the sumo wrestlers. It’s been years since they had a sumo demonstration at the Japanese Festival, and we’ve never gotten to see anything like it before…it was really cool, and I’m so glad we were there!

This is definitely one of our favorite annual events in St. Louis!

St. Louis Greek Festival

After a fun European-themed summer school, I was really excited to take the children to the St. Louis Greek Festival at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in the city today, especially since it’s been eight years since last we attended!

According to Turkey, the Japanese Festival that we went to yesterday (details to come!) was Japanese culture with a little bit of food, while today’s event was Greek food with a little bit of culture, and honestly, he wasn’t wrong. There was food everywhere, plus Greek music and dancing:

When you think Greek food, there are certain things that come to mind…gyros, shish-kebob, spanakopita, and baklava, for example. But they take it to the next level at the Greek Festival, with the standard Greek fare, plus specialty items such as saganaki topped with gyros (so unbelievably delicious!) and baklava sundaes!

Other than the food, the highlight of the day was the church tour. St. Nicholas is a beautiful church, and different from what we’re used to seeing on a daily basis. We also learned a bit about Orthodox history and theology, which was very interesting!

I really don’t know why it’s been so long since we went to the St. Louis Greek Festival, but I’m pretty sure we should make this an annual event, because it was a lot of fun!

Christmas Traditions 2018

Today we made our annual trek west to St. Charles, MO, for the Christmas Traditions festival. (This is not to be confused with the trek north we made a few weeks ago to St. Charles, IL, also for Christmas-related reasons!)

The day was as beautiful as the picture looks, although it was a bit warm for our tastes. But the spring-like temperatures brought our larger crowds than we’ve ever encountered before…it was a good thing they finally decided to close Main Street to vehicular traffic, because I don’t know how all of the pedestrians would have fit on the sidewalks!

St. Charles is never more charming than it is at Christmastime:

One of the best parts of going to Christmas Traditions is seeing all of our favorite characters. We’ll call this year’s attempt a “successful failure.” We saw the number one character we wanted to see (Jack Frost), and a really cool new character (Ded Moroz), but there was no Frontier Santa this year, and we didn’t see the Master of Revels, and a number of the other characters we enjoy seeing every year. In the end, we collected 31 out of 41 numbered character cards, plus one of the bonus cards, which is really not bad!

Bunny had an especially good visit with Jack Frost, the “Bob Ross of Frost” this year. He even embellished his character card with a bit of his artwork for her!

This was a challenging visit to St. Charles for me, since I’m still wearing the CAM boot. The uneven brick streets made walking more difficult than I would care to admit, and our parking space, which was practically on the other side of the Missouri River, made our walk extra long. But I was determined to have fun today, and do the things we usually do, because I hate to miss out on anything. So, even though climbing the brick steps up to the gazebo wasn’t the easiest thing ever, I even got my annual picture of the Fab Five, and I think it might be the best one yet!

And just like that, another year’s visit to Christmas Traditions is over. Even though things were a bit different this year (we were too late to see the parade, and we missed the gingerbread houses), we had a great time! I’m already looking forward to seeing what changes they might make next year…but not as much as I’m looking forward to not having to navigate the event with a broken ankle!

Christmas Traditions 2017

Yesterday was that most magical day of the year when we went to St. Charles, MO, for the Christmas Traditions festival. I think this was one of our coldest visits to the event…some years, we’ve barely needed sweatshirts, but yesterday, we were wearing winter coats, hats and gloves! We braved the cold to see all of our favorite characters and collect their cards along the way…We ended up with 32 of 45 cards, which isn’t too bad! Every year, I hope that maybe this is the year we get them all, but I kind of doubt that will ever happen. Plus, there are Wednesday night bonus cards, so we really couldn’t ever collect all of them, since we can only make the journey to St. Charles once a year, and we would rather go during the day on the weekend.

We visited the Gingerbread Village, where, as always, I was impressed by the talent and creativity on display. I especially liked the gingerbread TARDIS!

Part of the fun is seeding the old buildings, horse-drawn carriages, and beautiful Christmas decorations:

By the time the parade rolled around, a few of us were too cold to watch, and had to head back to the car. Those that stayed enjoyed seeing ALL the characters, and taking part in the camaraderie of the crowd:

No matter how I feel about Santa, I always enjoy seeing the Santas of the world carrying in their country’s’ flags:

We didn’t take a lot of pictures with the characters, but we got the ones that mattered most, including a group shot with my favorite Santa (Frontier Santa, who I am pretty sure is exactly who Mr. Edwards met in Little House on the Prairie), and a photo with Bunny and Jack Frost, her Christmas Traditions hero:

And of course a family picture on the steps of the gazebo!

It always goes by too fast, but we’re already thinking about the fun we’ll have next year!

Christmas Traditions 2016

Yesterday was one of my favorite days of the Christmas season…the day where we drive out to St. Charles, MO, for the Christmas Traditions festival!

We started, as we do every year, with lunch. We haven’t eaten at Frankie Tocco’s since before Chickadee was born, so I figured we should go back there so she could experience that part of our family tradition. St. Louis style pizza isn’t my favorite, but Frankie Tocco’s makes it as good as it gets.

We then went through the Gingerbread Village…I really wish I could enter one of those contests someday!

For the last few years, we’ve seen most of the parade…this year, we saw the whole thing! I love seeing all of the different characters in costume, walking down the brick street, passing by all the gorgeous old buildings that are so much a part of St. Charles’ identity.

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And seeing the flags of the world carried by the different Santas is always fun:

We joined the end of the parade and went down to Frontier Park, where we enjoyed a good-natured red vs. green game show, led by La Befana and Babushka:

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After the parade and the character hoopla, we got down to work meeting characters and collecting cards. The children had their pictures taken with all our old favorites…the Frontier Santa, who looks like he stepped out of the pages of Little House on the Prairie, Santa Lucia, the Christmas Angel, and Bunny’s favorite, Jack Frost. He even let her hold his “BLUEkulele!”

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For the first time ever, I had my picture taken with a few characters, too. The Master of Revels has been my favorite since the first time Ryan and I sat down and watched him harass festival-goers over a decade ago(!!!), and like Bunny, I’m also a fan of Jack Frost, and his pal Susie Snowflake (the one character I will take credit for introducing to Christmas Traditions several years ago). I even had the right outfit to take a picture with the frosty duo!

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We managed to find 32 out of 48 characters, which is a lot, but not our best year by any stretch of the imagination. I may die of shock if we ever have a year where we collect every single card!

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I love walking up and down Main Street and seeing all the buildings and decorations!

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And I really love taking a picture of the children by the gazebo…I think this is one of the best photos yet!

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I’m a little sad that it isn’t even December yet, and our family’s favorite Christmas tradition has already come and gone, but we had an amazing afternoon in St. Charles, and I’m already looking forward to next year’s festival!

Christmas Traditions 2015

Last Sunday was one of the most anticipated days of the year for our family…the day we head west to St. Charles for the Christmas Traditions festival!

As we have for the last few years, we started at Llewelyn’s Pub for lunch:

We then stopped at the Gingerbread Village to see the creations and vote for our favorites (we even got to see the trophy this year!). I loved the Eiffel Tower, because it was both timely and beautiful.

We then saw the parade for only the second time ever…and this year, we even saw the whole thing!

I especially seeing all of the flags of the world:

Another first for us was seeing the cast skit, in the form of a game show. It was just as hilarious as you would expect!

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The main attraction is getting as many character cards as possible. We did pretty well this year, finding all but nine of the 42 characters!

My favorite is always the Master of Revels, so I was very glad we got to see him, and hear him give out all the wrong holiday greetings (Happy Arbor Day in November?!?):

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Another family favorite is Jack Frost…he always makes us laugh!

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And even though I’m normally anti-Santa, I really love the Frontier Santa, because he’s exactly how I pictured the character when reading Little House on the Prairie as a child:

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It’s always fun to see all of the decorations as you walk up and down Main Street:

We even saw a few humorous signs!

As always, I’m a little sad that it’s over for us already…but we always have next year to look forward to. One of these days, we may even collect every single card!

Greek Fest 2015

A few years ago, we went to the Labor Day weekend Greek Fest at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in St. Louis city, and had a lot of fun. When I heard that there was going to be a St. Louis county Greek Fest at Assumption Greek Orthodox Church this weekend, I figured we should probably check it out, too.

There was a ton of food:

Music and dancers:

A market, which featured lots of jewelry:

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My favorite part, though, as was the case last time, was the church tour. The presiding priest gave a lecture about the history of the Greek Orthodox church, as well as Assumption’s church building, and he did a fantastic job. Even though I was already familiar with the Greek Orthodox church, I learned a lot, and so did the children (the words “Ottoman Empire” came out of Ladybug’s mouth on the way home, which means not only was she listening today, she was listening in school when we studied history this year, too!).

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The church is beautiful. There are many icons, as well as stained glass, a few mosaics, and a beautiful copper baptismal font.

The screen between the nave and the sanctuary is both beautiful and interesting. Jesus and Mary are on either side of the royal doors, and flanking them are John the Baptist and the icon for the saint of the church, which in this case, portrays the Assumption of Mary. The other two doors have icons of the archangels on them.

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I think my favorite part of the whole church was this beautiful icon:

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This is a really fun cultural event, where you can learn a bit of history, a lot about religion, and even about food. The St. Nicholas Greek Fest will be held again on Labor Day weekend, so if you don’t have time to visit Assumption this weekend, I highly recommend stopping by St. Nicholas at the end of the summer!

An 1864 Christmas

Yesterday, we went down to the Old Courthouse in St. Louis to see what an 1864 Christmas ball would have been like.

It was a lot of fun! The dresses were beautiful, the dancing was fun (Turkey and Bunny even participated in a reel!), and the music was very energetic. It’s enough to make you wish that Christmas dances like this were still a popular activity!

A French Colonial Christmas

Today, after celebrating Christmas in Italy on The Hill, we traveled to the Jarrot Mansion in Cahokia to celebrate a French colonial Christmas. The house was decorated in a simple, but beautiful style:

There was a musician playing the hammered dulcimer, which really added to the festive spirit!

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And, instead of a typical American Santa, they had Saint Nicholas, also the precursor to the French Père Noël, visiting with people.

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This was a unique, and still very St. Louis, way to celebrate Christmas!

Christmas on The Hill 2014

Today was one of our favorite days of the Christmas season…Christmas on The Hill!

The first thing we always do when we get there is look for all the nativities. It doesn’t matter how many times we see them, we still marvel at their beauty, and the way they tell the Christmas story!

We stopped by The Hill’s version of a Christmas market. There were items for sale, crafts for the children, and something new this year…salsiccia. It wasn’t the salamites we’ve grown accustomed to over the years, but it was still delicious!

There was Christmas spirit everywhere!

And Italian spirit everywhere, too, of course!

Bunnys’ favorite part of Christmas on The Hill is listening to La Befana tell her story at Gelato di Riso.

I love looking at St. Ambrose, the neighborhood church…it’s so beautiful!

Any visit to The Hill is fun, but Christmas on The Hill is even better!