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Multicultural Club brings dancing, Krampus to Lodi Christmas celebration

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Posted: Wednesday, December 20, 2017 5:00 pm

For years now, a group of Lodi students have gotten together each week to learn about the world: different traditions and the history behind them, from food to music and dance to holiday celebrations.

On Thursday, the Multicultural Club will share some of what they’ve learned this year with others. First, they’ll give a presentation about Krampus, Christmas parol lanterns and other traditions at Lodi Middle School. Then, that evening, they’ll dance at the Lodi Boys & Girls Club.

The club is led by Sylvia Caracoza and Sandra Vargas, who are helped by several of the club members’ parents.

“It’s a range of different ages and nationalities,” Vargas said. Each of the kids and their families brings their own traditions, and as a group the kids choose other traditions to learn about — like Krampus.

In folklore, Krampus — a horned “half-demon” — punishes children who have misbehaved before Christmas.

In modern tradition, that means giving them coal, but in the past that’s included stuffing them in a sack and taking them away.

He’s sort of the anti-Santa, and he serves as the yang to St. Nick’s yin in southern Germany, Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia and parts of Italy.

The Multicultural Club plans to share what they’ve learned about the Alpine tradition, and one of their members will dress up as Krampus.

They’ll also share Christmas food and folklore from other parts of the world, including dishes from Ethiopia and Mexico.

“We have this Mexican restaurant on Victor Road that is helping the club on that subject,” Vargas said. Gonzalez Restaurant and Bakery will help the club members make a cake that celebrates the Three Kings in Mexico.

The group will also share about Christmas parol lanterns from the Philippines, member Cristina Farfan said. The traditional paper and bamboo lanterns are inspired by the Star of Bethlehem.

Later on, club members will perform some of the dances they’ve learned this year at the Boys & Girls Club.

“I like how we can travel back in time through one song and one dance,” club president Jennifer Noyola said.

The Multicultural Club, which is free and open to kids in Lodi, Galt and the surrounding area, meets each Thursday — and sometimes more often, when they’re preparing and rehearsing for a presentation or performance.

Caracoza started the club about 20 years ago, but took a break when her son Luis was shot and killed while trying to break up a fight in 2003. Vargas helped her restart the club with a new goal: keep kids out of trouble, and help them build connections with one another.

“They have something good to do (now),” Caracoza said.

The kids don’t just learn about traditions from other places in the world, either. Last week, reluctant to show off the dances they were practicing for this week, Noyola and her fellow club members Jennifer and Roxana Perez, Kasandra Foster and Douglas Penry did a few steps from “Thriller,” which they learned for Halloween.

“It’s an American tradition,” Vargas said.

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