Bellevue's Worldfest explores Christmas customs of 20 cultures -
Published Saturday, November 30, 2013 at 4:57 pm / Updated at 9:35 pm
Bellevue's Worldfest explores Christmas customs of 20 cultures

Santa Claus didn't fly in on a sled or squeeze down a chimney.

Rather, he walked through the main doors of the Bellevue Lied Activity Center, flanked by Scottish bagpipes and drums.

His nontraditional entry Saturday at Bellevue's Worldfest helped showcase the wide variety of cultures in the Omaha area.

The annual event celebrated Christmas customs of 20 cultures for a multigenerational crowd. Attendees could learn about — and taste — holiday traditions from all over the world.

A large crowd gathered around the Czech display, where women in traditional kroj outfits sold many-flavored kolaches made by the Omaha Czech Cultural Club.

Across the room, attendees could visit Latin America by learning about “Día de los Reyes,” or Day of the Kings. Children stared in disbelief when they heard that Christmas gifts in those countries aren't opened until Jan. 6.

Despite the holiday excitement, talk at the Philippines table included the relief effort for victims of Typhoon Haiyan.

Daryl Rose, president of the Filipino-American Organization of Metro Omaha, said there has been a lot of support from the community so far.

When asked about Filipino holiday traditions, Rose said they are similar to those in the United States, with one exception.

“They begin celebrating much earlier,” he said. “My wife has had our house decorated since October.”

Worldfest served not only as a passport but also as a time machine.

The Medieval and Renaissance Society recreated a medieval marketplace that included rope maker Gerry Eisert. Eisert's station let children hand-spin their own 2-foot section of rope.

After learning about the various cultures, children could write cards to servicemen and women who will be abroad during the holidays.

Temperatures in the mid-50s drew many attendees outside for free hayrack rides.

Joe Sherman of Bellevue helped young and old alike onto a trailer pulled by a restored 1947 John Deere “B” tractor.

Bellevue City Councilwoman Carol Blood, organizer of the event, said the turnout was lower than last year due to the warm weather.

She said she especially enjoys the educational aspect of Worldfest.

“Our cultures are our history,” Blood said. “It builds character when you know who you are and where you are from.”

Contact the writer: Amanda Brandt    |  

Amanda is a part-time newsroom messenger who occasionally writes news features.

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