For our fifth advent activity we attended an ethnic holiday festival in a city near where we live. My oldest son and I attended this last year and he really enjoyed it. This year the whole family went together: myself, my husband and our two sons. It is held in a museum that is an old train station. It is a spectacularly beautiful building with tall ceilings and amazing architectural details. There was a 50-foot tree all decked out with lights and ornaments. In addition, there was a Santa and Mrs. Claus. We didn't have to wait in line at all.........the boys just walked right up. My little boy has typically been afraid to see Santa. This year he climbed right up on Santa's lap and told him all about the catcher's mask he hopes Santa will bring him. Afterwards, Mrs. Claus gave the boys each a little box which held a small jigsaw puzzle. When my little one opened his he said, "Awwww! I thought it was a catcher's mask." I thought that was so cute! I explained that Santa doesn't bring gifts to our house until Christmas.
At this festival there are ethnic groups representing countries all around the world. There is a room where you can purchase food from different countries. Last year my oldest son and I sampled a beef curry dish which he loved. We had the exact same thing this year and he (not me) also tried sushi for the first time and liked it.
Each person attending the festival is given a "passport" which has spots with the flags of each country represented. As you go around to the various booths, a person will stamp your passport for that country. The people at the booths are typically dressed in authentic clothing from that country. Additionally, there are displays at each table which include maps, artwork and handcrafted items, and often photographs. My oldest son loved this. While he and I got his passport stamped all around the world, my husband chased the little one around (Thanks, hun!). Luckily, there is a full-size train with several authentic vintage train cars that you can actually go into. That kept the little guy busy for a while at least. In the photo below, my oldest son is pointing to one of the stamps in his passport. He is so used to me taking photos wherever we go that he kept asking me all night to "take a picture of this, Mommy". He was particularly impressed that the stamp from Belgium was made using an embossed emblem. That's why he wanted a photo of him pointing to it.
I think we will make going to this festival a holiday tradition. It is fun and educational. Last year we purchased an ornament for our tree at home. It was a carved Nativity scene from Israel. I am planning to add a few ornaments from different countries to our collection every year.
This is one of our new ornaments for this year. It is from Peru. All the ornaments at the festival are reasonably priced, in my opinion. This was $5.
When I saw this little hand-stitched cat ornament I could NOT resist. We have 3 cats (and a dog). This ornament is from Lithuania and was $4.
Here is the Nativity ornament we got last year from the Israel booth. I don't remember how much we paid for it, but I'm sure it was $5 or less.