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Odd Christmas traditions thrive around the world

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Xmas around the globe

The (Perth, Australia) Southern Gazette notes:

  • “Tucking into a bucket of KFC fried chicken on Dec. 25 is so popular in Japan that the fast-food chain requires table reservations weeks in advance.”
  • “Instead of shortbread and a glass of milk, Irish children leave mince pies and a bottle of Guinness out as a special snack for Father Christmas.”
  • “As a great way to burn off holiday season calories, the main street of Caracas, Venezuela, is closed off so churchgoers can roller-skate to their Christmas morning service.”

Endangered store Santas?

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"In 1841, the first department store Santa Claus appeared in Philadelphia," writes Gerry Bowler in The World Encyclopedia of Christmas. "J.W. Parkinson's store arranged for a real 'Criscringle' to come down a chimney and astonish the assembled children. The stunt was so successful that Parkinson began to advertise his business as 'Kriss Kringle's Headquarters.' Strangely, Parkinson had no imitators until 1890 … The ideal department store Santa is described as middle-aged, plump, red-face, and possessing his own beard, with an ability to charm children and pass a police background check. Such candidates are rare and getting more so, according to those responsible for recruiting them. Modern healthy lifestyles have apparently reduced the number of suitably obese men."

All in the family

"Macedonian Silvera Padori lives in Berlin and has a German husband," says Deutsche Welle. "Her daughter has moved with her family to London. So it's clear that, when the Padoris celebrate Christmas, it means doing so on Christmas Eve, like Germans do, then on Christmas Day, like the British do, and then on Epiphany, Jan. 6, like Macedonian-Orthodox Christians do. 'All good things come in threes!' Silvera quips. But Christmas in her hometown of Bitola in southern Macedonia is completely different than in Berlin or London. 'We don't give each other big presents,' she said. 'It's a time of contemplation – children, parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts come together and are there for each other.'"

Really bad gift choices

"The New Zealand Customs Service is warning Kiwis that weapons are not for Christmas stockings," says Britain's Independent Radio News. "Spokesman Bill Perry says travellers and online shoppers need to be aware that flick knives, knuckle dusters, daggers, stun guns and pepper spray are prohibited or restricted in New Zealand. He says those who think they are good Christmas presents will have them seized at the border."

Poor taste in Xmas lights

"A Louisiana woman ran afoul of police when she gave her neighbours an unusual holiday greeting, hanging Christmas lights in the shape of a middle finger," reports Associated Press. "Sarah Childs was in a dispute with some of her neighbours in Denham Springs, just east of Baton Rouge, so she decided to send a message with her decorations. Neighbours complained and police threatened to arrest her, so she and the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana sued the city. A judge ruled in her favour [last] Thursday. 'I imagine it will be back up before too long,' ACLU of Louisiana executive director Marjorie Esman said of the display."

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Thought du jour

"The meaning of good and bad, of better and worse, is simply helping or hurting."

Ralph Waldo Emerson, American lecturer and poet (1803-82)

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