A Global Christmas?

Saturday December 23, 2006


It seems that Christmas is fast on the way to becoming an all-purpose global festival, and that however many air miles you clock up and however much damage you do to the planet in your desire to get away, there is nowhere that you can escape that sinister old man with a white beard dressed in a red suit or that even more sinister song by Chris de Burgh. You know the one. I don’t need to sing it for you…

Over in Vietnam, for example, the demand for Santa is so great that they have set up a Santa training academy where local impersonators of the world’s most famous Laplander can learn to sing Jingle Bells and find out about the rudiments of reindeer husbandry. Or something like that. Over in Thailand, meanwhile – at least according to that bastion of intelligent and responsible reportage, the Sun newspaper – elephants are getting in on the act. Meanwhile in China, the largest exporter of Christmas tat in the world, a group of students are protesting about the infiltration of Christmas festivities into Chinese culture, arguing that what is needed instead is a return to Confucian values (Confucius – for the uninitiated – may, in his old age, have had a long white beard, but he almost certainly did not own any reindeer).

Meanwhile the Independent newspaper has provided a list of possibilities for alternative Christmas celebrations, with suggestions such as “hire an island”, “go on a retreat”, “go wildlife spotting” and (cheeky!) “go to church”. But whatever you are doing, and for whatever reason, have a very happy Christmas.

# · Jeff Wilson

The train/subway station in Kyoto actually erected their enormous Christmas tree on Halloween this year, beating even most American retailers to the punch.

Happy Christmas to you too!

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