In some ways, Santa Claus is a bit creepy. He waits until people are asleep, then breaks into their houses and starts messing about with their stockings. I’m not sure I’m that keen on him. If, like me, you think the jolly, bearded intruder is a little scary, just remember that things could be a lot worse – imagine waking up to find Krampus wandering around your bedroom.
If you want to add an international flavour to your Christmas celebrations (or just fancy a year off the turkey), why not pick a dish or two from our alternative Christmas menu:
It probably goes without saying that our Father Christmas is the one true Father Christmas but, nevertheless, let’s take a look at who else might be filling the stockings around Europe:
Are you wearing a Christmas jumper today? If not, then it’s more than likely you’ll be cajoled into it shortly, for Christmas jumpers have become a bit of a “thing” in recent years.
Unlike us pathetic humans, there are plenty of creatures around the world who do just fine in chilly weather. These animals have all found ways of dealing with harsh conditions, whether that be by changing their behaviour or evolving their bodies. So, if you’re the type of person who started whining about the cold as soon as summer was over, spare a thought for these guys…
Some people say lightning never strikes twice in the same place. These people obviously haven’t heard of the Catatumbo lightning in Venezuela, which has been striking the same spot almost continuously for centuries!
Teotihuacan, the name given to this ancient city by the Aztecs, translates as “birthplace of the Gods.” If you think this makes it sound like the Aztecs were overly pleased with their building skills, think again – they didn’t build the city, they just found it. Amazingly, by the 14th century when the Aztecs rose to dominance in the area, Teotihuacan had already been abandoned for around 600 years.
Sometimes called Brazilian grapes, jabuticaba fruit are big purple berries, 3-4 cm in diameter. Unusually, rather than growing in bunches, the fruit grows all the way up the tree’s trunk and leaves it looking like it might have a hideous disease.
A rambutan is a soft, white-fleshed fruit (similar to a lychee) covered in a red spiny skin. The word rambutan is Indonesian for “hairy”. This is fine as a description of how it looks, but really needs something more to make it clear that they’re talking about a fruit – the tree that the rambutans grow on is also called rambutan (and that isn’t even hairy) so there’s bound to be some confusion.
The fruit of the thatch screwpine is made up of many little wedges, each containing between two and eight of the plant’s seeds.