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Christmas in Japan – Chicken instead of Turkey

Japan is famous for taking foreign products and ideas and adapting them to their own culture. Kurisumasu, as Christmas is called there, is no exception. Only one percent of the Japanese are Christian, however, a lot of money is spent annually on decorations and gifts. Christmas in Japan is a highly commercialized, although non-religious, event.

Christmas in Japan equals KFC

One of the strangest traditions associated with Christmas in Japan is visiting the KFC and eating buckets of “Christmas Chicken”. The meal costs around 40 dollars and includes not only chicken but also cake and champagne. The Japanese order seats in KFC restaurants or boxes with their Christmas meal months ahead. The ones that do not do that sometimes wait in lines for two hours.

Christmas in Japan

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Snowman and Christmas – History and Anecdotes

Historical background

The earliest mentions of snowmen date from the sixteenth century (Shakespeare also mentions them). The popular character also appears in a compilation of nursery rhymes in 1770, in Leipzig. It was only at the beginning of the twentieth century that the snowman was associated with the end-of-year celebrations. Nowadays, in the Western culture and in the northern hemisphere, however, the snowman is associated with Christmas and winter.

Anecdotes

In Lithuania, they call a snowman “a brainless man”. For this reason, Lithuanians had a great way to show their dissatisfaction with their government. Namely, in the winter of 2005, Lithuanians built 141 snowmen in front of their Parliament, one for each of their MPs. In Japan, they put buckets on the heads of snowmen as hats (you can see it in mangas and anime). The Japanese call snowman Yuki Daruma (だ る ま ま – “Daruma of snow”). Daruma is the Japanese name of Bodhidharma, a very important Buddhist monk.

snowman

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NORAD Tracks Santa – Santa is under Surveillance, too!

How NORAD Tracks Santa originated?

According to a popular legend, the famous NORAD Tracks Santa entertainment program was born from a misprint in a newspaper in 1955. Instead of printing the number of the store which children could call and tell Santa Claus what they wanted for Christmas, they printed the number of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). The numbers differed by one digit. Colonel Shoup, who was in charge, ordered his staff to give the children updates on the flight of Santa. Since then, the program has become a tradition. American Air Force had, however, “spotted” Santa once before NORAD Tracks Santa started. In 1948 they claimed to have detected an “unidentified sleigh, powered by eight reindeer at 14,000 feet”.

NORAD Tracks Santa

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Operation Christmas – More Christmas Magic at Work

This will make you believe in Christmas magic!

Now, here is some more proof that Christmas magic is real – and it’s aptly titled Operation Christmas. During the Christmas season of 2010 the Colombian Government decorated nine huge jungle trees with lights. Guerrilla fighters were hiding in that part of the jungle, so, in between the trees, the government set up a banner which said: “If Christmas can come to the jungle, you can come home. Demobilize.” This campaign convinced 331 guerrilla fighters to return to society. Deservedly, the Operation Christmas campaign won a gold Cannes Lion in the outdoor category and half a dozen Grand Prix awards at other shows.

Operation Christmas

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Kiss under the Mistletoe – the Origin Story

Kissing under the mistletoe is probably one of the most popular Christmas traditions. We are not going to try and explain why. However, you will be surprised to find out about its origins, and what it meant in the old times. After reading this text, whenever you get into an awkward situation thanks to this plant, you will know who to blame… or thank.

mistletoe

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The Most Famous Christmas Present?

Is the symbol of New York Really the most famous Christmas present ever?

Many say that the Statue of Liberty is the biggest thing ever given as a Christmas present and the most famous Christmas present too. Weighing 225 tons and with 151 feet in height, it definitely would be, if it New York received it on Christmas. However, this connection between the most popular holiday and the symbol of America is probably an urban myth. Yes, the Statue of Liberty was indeed a gift, from the French people to the Americans, but they received it on 28th October in 1886. So, it may be the biggest and most famous gift ever, but not the most famous Christmas present. It has something to do with one holiday though – but that holiday is 4th July.

most famous christmas present

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Christmas Stocking – the Origin Story

The Christmas Stocking is a sock-like bag that children hang at the fireplace on Christmas Eve so that Santa can fill it with small gifts. The tradition spread around the world, thanks to its popularity in the USA. But do you really know where this custom comes from?

Christmas Stocking

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The Christmas Truce – Christmas Magic at Work

What is the Christmas Truce?

The Christmas Truce is a term used to describe several unofficial ceasefires that took place during the Christmas period between the French, British and German troops during the First World War, especially those between British and German troops stationed along the western front in 1914, and to a lesser extent in 1915. In 1915 there was a similar Christmas truce between the German and French troops. In 1915 and 1916, a truce was also held at Easter on the eastern front.

christmas truce

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Christmas Toys – Popular Presents

LEGOs – Best-Selling Christmas Toys

Toys are probably the most popular gifts for Christmas. To children, Christmas and toys are inseparable. LEGOs are extremely popular – during the Christmas season, nearly 28 sets of LEGO are sold every second. It is no wonder, that, despite the difficulties this 100-year-old Danish company was going through in the beginning of this century, LEGO became the world’s most valuable toy company in 2012, and has been on the rise since. The popularity of Legos may be timeless, however, other Christmas toys have also been finding ways into the hearts of children (and the wallets of their parents) throughout the last several decades. Read further and find out which Christmas toys these are. Maybe some of them were your favorites and will remind you of your childhood?

Christmas Toys

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The Origins of Santa Claus – Odin and Santa

Santa Claus around Europe

For many, Christmas is all about the presents and the one who brings them – Santa Claus. Everybody knows that the name of Santa Claus comes from Saint Nicholas, a Christian Saint. In some parts of Europe, like Poland, they still call the bringer of Christmas gifts by this “Christian name”. Germans call him “Christmas Man”, in Western Europe he is “Father Christmas”, in the Balkans “Christmas Grandfather”. Furthermore, in Central Europe his role is performed by Baby Jesus, in Greece by St Basil, while on Iceland it is a group of “Christmas lads”. However, other places in Europe have their own, pre-Christian, names for this beloved mythical figure. Most Slavs (including Russians) call him Grandfather Frost, in Northern Europe gnomes and goats often do what he does, and in Italy, La Befana, a woman flying on a broomstick, deals out the presents.

Santa Claus

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