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Christmas Celebrations Underway Around the World

Christmas Celebrations Underway Around the Worldi
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December 24, 2012
Wherever Christians live around the world, the routines of daily life are coming to a stop as people pause to celebrate Christmas, sometimes in unique ways. VOA's Jeff Seldin reports from Washington.

Christmas Celebrations Underway Around the World

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Wherever Christians live around the world, the routines of daily life are coming to a stop as people pause to celebrate Christmas, sometimes in unique ways.

It is an annual tradition in Thailand -- elephants dressed as Santa Claus on parade, handing out toys to school children. And it is not just the children who get excited.

"Oh this is the best day of the year. This is the best day of the year when the elephants come,'' St. Clair said.

Halfway across the world in Mexico, Santa takes a human form, going for a swim with the fishes, delighting children at a zoo in Guadalajara.

Elsewhere in Mexico, for the 115th year they are celebrating "Noche de Rabanos" - Night of the Radish - with Christmas sculptures carved out of, what else, radishes.

"It is brilliant how the artisans transform this pieces into magic, they make you dream and make your thoughts shine and transport them somewhere else with their images," said tourist Enedina Corona.

In frozen Moscow it is cold ... but not too cold for Grandfather Frost to make an appearance by bus and even call on a bit of holiday magic.

In Germany, families warm up before heading into the forest to cut down their own Christmas trees ... and lug them back home.

Wherever you go there is plenty of shopping to do. American shoppers are packing into stores hoping to find last-minute gifts and deals.

In Lagos, Nigeria, decorations are up ... but many last-minute shoppers worry the celebrations will be dampened by frequent power outages.

"Nigeria is in a state where if you don't have, if you are not in some good estate that has their own power supply or their own generator or you don't have the money to run your own generator, you can't enjoy these simple things that make Christmas enjoyable,'' said Lagos resident Ugomma Ugochukwu.

There are also the more traditional celebrations - like this one in Bethlehem, where bands play in Manger Square as crowds gather to celebrate Midnight Mass.

Even in war-ravaged Syria, there are signs of Christmas, though onr Christian woman says this year the holiday is more about hope than joy.

"Our only hope is that our God will be with us and help us to do something to heal the wounds of those displaced and sad families, and to make them happy, even with symbolic things,'' said housewife Nimir.

A Syrian choir is finding reasons to sing as many in Syria and across the world pray for a safer and happier new year.

Jeff Seldin

Jeff works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters covering a wide variety of subjects, from the nature of the growing terror threat in Northern Africa to China’s crackdown on Tibet and the struggle over immigration reform in the United States. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

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