During a high-security Christmas Mass at the Vatican, Pope Francis has said that the true meaning of Christmas is being drowned out by materialism.
The Pope also denounced the continuing suffering of children.
The head of the Roman Catholic Church mentioned those who faced hunger, danger on migration routes and bombing in Syrian cities such as Aleppo.
Image source AP
Those taking part in Christmas Eve service inside St Peter’s Basilica had to pass through metal detectors.
The Mass celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ is the first major event of the Christmas season for the Pope, which will include his noon blessing on Christmas Day.
During the service, Pope Francis said Christmas had been “taken hostage” by materialism, and that the season needed more humility.
The pontiff said people now lived in a time “when the lights of commerce cast the light of God into the shadows, when we are concerned for gifts, but cold toward those who are marginalized”.
Throughout the past year, Pope Francis has urged compassion towards refugees, urging Christians to remember that Jesus himself was a migrant.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is getting ready to tackle its annual holiday mission – tracking Santa’s storybook sleigh ride around the world.
Peterson Air Force base in Colorado Springs has been working for weeks for its one-day mission.
Volunteers will be answering calls from an estimated 125,000 children around the globe looking for Santa’s whereabouts.
The call center in a training building will be staffed starting at 1 AM on December 24, for 23 hours on Christmas Eve. Volunteers will also share Santa’s location on Facebook and Twitter.
View Santa’s route
VIDEO The Polish Christmas ad has hit 7 million YouTube views in just 10 days.
The ad, made for Polish auction website
Allegro has almost 8 million views on the site’s Facebook page.
What are you looking for at Christmas? English for beginners is a tale of a Polish grandfather learning to speak English ahead of a holiday trip to London and has resonated with its online audience.
Grandpa begins with prepositions and pronouns, before making mistaken, out-of-place declarations on the city bus and foul-mouthed threats in the bath.
The mini-movie makes little mention in its 3-minute runtime of the product advertised – a Polish auction website – other than an opening title and the sign-off:
“And you? What are you looking for?”
Allegro‘s Facebook page has fielded an overwhelmingly positive reaction in the 1,200 comments beneath the video.
Some say it is the only ad they have watched to the end or the only one to have made them cry, and
Allegro appears to be responding to as many of the comments as possible.
However, the 2,500 comments below on YouTube are also interested in the breed of dog belonging to the grandfather and the violent goading toward the rubber duck.
Allegro is the fifth largest website in Poland, according to figures from web traffic analysis site Alexa Internet, and has previously put out an ad with more than 2.5 million views on YouTube.
English for beginners has outstripped the viewing numbers of Allegro’s most recent commercials, What do you do every year?, with 60,000 views, and What do you do every day?, with 900,000 views.
For the first time in the Mall of America’s 24-year history, a black Santa will greet families for annual Christmas photos.
The shopping center in Minnesota has employed Larry Jefferson, a retired army veteran from Texas.
Larry Jefferson will greet children this weekend at the shopping centre’s Christmas experience.
Co-owner of the photo studio, Landon Luther, has told the
Minnesota Star Tribune that he’s been looking for a more diverse Santa that children of color can relate to since 2015.
“This is a long time coming,” Landon Luther said.
Image source Facebook
“We want Santa to be for everyone, period. It was like finding a needle in a haystack. He considers himself a Santa for all.”
Landon Luther says he got Santa Sid, who’s been having his photo taken with children for the last 20 years, to look for a black Santa.
He finally tracked one down in July at a Santa convention in Branson, Missouri, where hundreds of impersonators convened for a “Kringle family reunion”.
Larry Jefferson is working at the Mall of America until December 4, before he returns to his own seasonal circuit in Dallas, Texas.
He says children don’t care what color he is.
“What they see most of the time is this red suit and candy,” Larry Jefferson told the Star Tribune.
“[Santa represents] a good spirit. I’m just a messenger to bring hope, love and peace to girls and boys.”
Larry Jefferson said he started wearing a Santa outfit in 1999 and used to visit his nephews at their house because they were too sick to go to an official experience.
He grew a white beard after retiring from the US army in 2015 and since then has graduated from Santa University in Denver, Colorado (he also has a degree in sociology).
Larry Jefferson booked up already all weekend and there’s now a waiting list for appointments.