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St. Charles Christmas Traditions

Theo Welling
Julenisse roams the streets.
Traditionally, there's only ever one Santa Claus on the job — that's what makes him so special. But at St. Charles Christmas Traditions, all the iterations of Santa Claus from other cultures and times gather in historic downtown St. Charles (South Main Street and Jackson Street, St. Charles; www.historicstcharles.com), which allows you to meet and take a picture with some far-out Santa variants and other assorted holiday characters. There's Ded Moroz ("Old Man Frost"), who brings the well-mannered children of Slavic countries their presents, and Julenisse, the Scandinavian supernatural being associated with the Winter Solstice. Non-Santa costumed characters include a reindeer flight instructor, Jack Frost, the Ice Queen and Julia D. Grant, the St. Louis-born wife of Ulysses and America's former first lady. St. Charles Christmas Traditions opens with a big brouhaha from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, November 23. The fun resumes from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday and Friday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday (November 24 to December 24). In some cultures, Santa Claus has a mischievous counterpart; on Wednesday nights from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., the Krampus gets his time to shine during Krampusnachts. At 8:13 p.m. he spins his Wheel of Misfortune in the Colonnade, joined by unsavory pals the Mouse King, Jolakotturinn (Iceland's ferocious Yule Cat, who eats people who don't get new clothes for Christmas) and the Abominable Snowman. If you feel like you can't keep all these beings straight without a scorecard, you're in luck: Special trading cards are available for each of them. Admission is free, and most shops and restaurants in the downtown area will be open for business during Christmas Traditions hours.

— Paul Friswold

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