The Global Perils of Christmas
1. In Paisley, Scotland a gang of youth attacked Santa at a shopping mall. The Santa Claus, a.k.a. Malky Watret, used his bag as a shield and a Christmas tree as a sword to fend off the attackers. Santa said of the ordeal, “They were calling me a fraud and a fake. If it had happened on the street I might have acted differently – I’d have given them a few choice words, but you can’t do that dressed as Santa.” (Link).
2. But the tables were turned in New Zealand. Forty drunken Santas described by Auckland police as an organized group of village idiots vandalized, smashed beer bottles, and attacked security staff. (Link). Police have requested tips from the public on any person wearing a red coat, red pants, red hat, black boots, and a large black belt.
3. In Leicestershire, England teachers who receive gifts from students must keep a detailed list of all presents they receive. Anything above a bar of chocolate or bottle of wine must be registered. According to a city councilman, the purpose of the Yuletide log is that “there be no suggestion that by taking the gift, preferential treatment should be received by the giver.” (Link). Teachers’ pets in England reportedly will take drastic measures to increase their chances of receiving high marks. Gifts received have included red “Hello Kitty” knickers, a pillow case, a pasta brooch, and a dead pheasant. (Link).
4. In Burundi, the government is imposing fines of $50 (six months salary) or two-year jail terms if you are caught cutting down a Christmas tree. The environmental ministry reported that the country had lost enough of its forest cover and could not afford any more trees to be cut down. The ministry encouraged residents to use artificial trees. (Link).
5. Christmas came early in the village of Carvin, France. It seems that 50 Euro notes were inadvertently put in the ATM slot meant for 20 Euro notes. The ATM malfunction caused a rush on the ATM machine until the police sealed off the area. The bad news is that all clients were tracked by the computer and the bank is demanding reimbursement. (Link).
7. In Rhode Island the official state Christmas tree fell victim to the state’s strict new fire code. “With the new fire code, we’re supposed to spray it, and apparently the spray killed it,” said Governor Donald Carcieri. Under state law, Christmas trees are “flammable vegetation” that must be treated with fire retardant, even if it kills them. (Link).
8. In Warwickshire, England thieves stole 40 Christmas turkeys from a truck outside the Belfry Hotel. The authorities encouraged anyone offered cheap meat to call the Warwickshire police immediately. (Link). Meanwhile in Lincolnshire, thieves stole an eight-foot inflatable Santa, several snowmen from a garden and even the bulbs from the town Christmas tree. (Link). Police have warned residents in the neighboring town of Whoville to keep on the look out for any suspicious-looking characters.
9. In Gwynnedd, Wales, Santa has apologized for a pub stop after a Christmas parade. Witnesses reported that Santa’s float stopped outside the pub, whereupon Santa jumped off, entered the pub, and took off his beard in full view of children. One child who witnessed Santa with a pint said his belief in the real Santa was unwavering. “I saw his ears, and they were pointy, so I knew he wasn’t a proper Santa. I guess he was one of the elves helping out.” (Link).
10. And finally, in Bethlehem strikers stormed city hall and the rooftop overlooking Manger Square in a labor dispute with the Palestinian Authority. The strikers expressed frustration with lack of pay. (Link). No word if the grievance also concerned the centuries-old difficulty with housing shortages in and around the little town of Bethlehem.