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Welcome to Santa University – Where Professional Santas Go to Hone Their Skills

Believe it or not, being a professional Santa is hard work. It’s not just about putting on a red suit and a fake beard and doing the best ‘ho-ho-ho’ you can muster. Some Santas actually take their job very seriously, so much so that they go to a university to sharpen their skills.

Yes, Santa University is a real thing. It’s a four-day training program that takes place every summer at ‘Noerr Pole’, the corporate office of Noerr Programs in Colorado. The company is a digital event imaging provider that recruits and trains its own 70-member Santa Claus team. “We cover every single aspect you can think of when it comes to being the consummate Santa,” said Ruth Rosenquist, public relations director at Noerr.

So prospective Santas are taught how to pose for pictures, how to deal with social and mainstream media, how to sit with a child on their lap, what to do if a child asks for something intangible for Christmas, and how to stay healthy and hydrated during the holidays. The Santas interact with each other over two BBQ sessions that promote goodwill and an atmosphere of support.

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Utah Neighborhood Is Using Decoy Packages to Confuse Thieves This Holiday Season

Residents of the Daybreak community, in South Jordan, Utah, have come up with a brilliant strategy to ward off thieves this Christmas. They’ve taken to placing fake Amazon packages filled with junk on their front porches, in order to keep the real stuff safe.

According to realtor Kroger Menzer, Daybreak is a tight-knit community of about 4,000 homes and 15,000 people who all know each other very well well. For the past few years, many of them faced the same problem during the holidays – thieves would steal the packages that were delivered to their front door. So when a resident named Jeff posted the fake-package idea on Facebook, it caught on pretty quickly.

“When Jeff came up with the idea, it spread like wildfire,” Menzer said. “The post spread to Riverton and Herriman. That’s why it’s going to work, because it’s not just a half a dozen homes doing it. It’s a whole community.”  The contents of the decoy packages will vary.  Menzer says some people plan to put in old electronics while others are going with rocks. A few altruistic folks want to throw in some clothes, which might eventually be donated to the needy. And some people want to use the idea to actually catch thieves, so they’re installing tracking devices on the boxes.

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Beware the Shadows, Ninja Day Is Coming!

If you happen to be in Japan this Sunday, chances are you’ll be seeing a lot more ninjas than usual. That’s because February 22nd is National Ninja Day in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Although not yet an official holiday, Ninja Day has been getting a lot of media attention in Japan, ever since the cities of Iga and Koka started organizing ninja-themed events to boost tourism. Both historical ninja strongholds, they feature a variety of themed attractions, like ninja villages and schools, but authorities go all out on Ninja Day, to really bring out the spirit of the skilled assassins that once thrived there.

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Australian Dad Lights Up Canberra with World’s Largest Christmas Lights Display

When Australian lawyer David Richards started decorating his family home for Christmas four years ago, little did he know that the simple pastime would snowball into a huge passion. The father-of-three is now a self-proclaimed ‘crazy Christmas lights guy’.

Impressed with the display of lights at his home last year, Richards was invited to transform Petrie Plaza in Canberra’s Central Business District into an epic Christmas spectacle this year. And Richards has not disappointed – this year’s display consists of a whopping 120 kilometers of lights and over one million light bulbs. Petrie Plaza now features a 3-D image constructed of lights, covering more than 41,000 square feet, in the shape of three large Christmas presents.

The spectacular display has won Richards a place in the Guinness Book for the third time. He won the record last year when he decorated his home with 502,165 lights, and once before in 2011. “Christmas lights really get people into the festive spirit,” Richards told Guinness. “We decorated our home for years, and people came from everywhere to see our lights. This year, who knows how many people will come along?”

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Ugly Christmas Sweater Stores Prove Big Hit This Holiday Season

Remember those ugly sweaters your mom or aunt would buy you for Christmas? If you still have them hiding at the back of your closet, it’s time to get them out because they’re in style! That’s right, ugly Christmas sweaters are all the rage in the U.S. and Canada. Stores all over North America are stocking up on the most hideous novelty sweaters this holiday season.

F as in Frank, a vintage store in British Columbia, is one of the places selling the tacky woolen garments. Co-owner Drew Heifetz says that he has sold over 30,000 sweaters this year alone. “We’re trying to breathe new life into them and everyone is really coming together creating a culture around these sweaters and it’s been an amazing resurgence,” he said. “Really, it’s about having a good time, getting wild wearing the craziest sweater you can.”

Photographs on the internet show people wearing the most hideous sweaters conceivable. Some of them have Christmas tree ornaments hanging off them, others light up and some even have Santa with a furry beard. These sweaters were in fashion last year too, with the sweater industry reporting record sales during Christmas. But it looks like this year’s sales will break all records.

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Australian Family Set New Guinness Record with 502,165 Christmas Light Installation

We love it when the holidays are around the corner; there are just so many odd stories to talk about! Our first Christmas story this season is here: an Australian family who put up over half a million Christmas lights in their Canberra home and set a new Guinness World Record.

This isn’t the first time father-of-three David Richards and his family have done this. In 2011 they set the record after putting up 331,038 lights. Last year a New-York family beat them with a whopping 346,283. The Richards wanted their title back so badly that this year they’ve installed 502,165 lights – that’s 31 miles of wire. They also have a glowing reindeer and loud music to boot.

Some of the Richards’ neighbours are very upset and haven’t spoken to the family since 2011. But most of them love the dazzle and come to visit from several miles away. David says, “I have always loved Christmas. Having the Christmas lights with the community coming in and sharing it is a time when you get to know people you probably should know better, I guess.”

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Canada’s Goldstream River Turns Green for the Holidays

The winter holidays are now behind us, but it seems I missed one of the biggest pranks of 2010 – the green river of Goldstream Park.

It happened on December 29, 2010, in Victoria’s peaceful Goldstream Park. The waters of the river suddenly became neon green, and everyone passing by it rubbed their eyes to make sure what they were seeing wasn’t just an illusion. It was very real, but was it that made Goldstream River look so alien-like? After an hour or so, the fluorescent coloring vanished, but the questions about the bizarre phenomenon remained unanswered.

After analyzing the neon-green water, the local Environment Ministry said it was the result of a chemical called “fluorescein”. Neither the substance itself nor its products of degradation are toxic, and experts believe that fish and their habitat were not affected, judging by the concentration and flow rate of the river.

Authorities haven’t yet identified the culprits, but believed the dumping of fluorescein in the Goldstream River was just a holiday season prank.

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Kalofer Men Celebrate Epiphany

The Bulgarian men of Kalofer celebrate Epiphany, an important Orthodox holiday, by performing a traditional dance in the freezing waters of Tundzha river.

On January 6, the small town of Kalofer, located 200 km east of the Bulgarian capital of Sofia, was the scene of an unique event. The men dressed in traditional costumes and, carrying national flags, headed for the neighboring Tundzha river. Here they entered its freezing waters and performed the customary Horo dance.

During the Epiphany ceremony, an Orthodox priest throws a metal cross in the water and young men plunge in to retrieve it. Whoever finds it first is said to stay in perfect health throughout the entire year. After a swim like this, I have my doubts…

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Heineken Presents Tastiest Christmas Tree

Heineken has unveiled its original Christmas tree, made out of 1,100 FULL beer bottles, in Shanghai, China.

Created by stacking Heineken beer bottles on a custom-made armature, the beer-bottle Christmas tree has Nanjing Street passers-by drooling when they look it. It may not look like a traditional Christmas tree and beer is definitely not as tasty in winter as it is on a hot summer day, but Heineken’s Christmas tree is definitely my favorite for 2009.

via Inhabitat

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For Mr. Christmas Every Day Is a Holiday

Everyone loves the feeling of waking up on Christmas morning, knowing there are presents under the Christmas tree and all the traditional goodies on the table. Well, Mr. Christmas gets to experience that every day.

44-year-old Andy Park has earned himself the nickname Mr. Christmas for celebrating the happiest day of the year on EVERY day of the year. It all began on a sunny day in 1994, when, despite the nice weather, Andy was feeling down and bored. He decided to go home and put on all the Christmas decorations and pretend it was really Christmas. That actually made his day a lot better, so he decided to do it all again the next day, and the one after that, until he became hooked on Christmas.

Mr. Christmas buys himself presents which he opens the next day, has mince pies and sherry for breakfast, a whole roast turkey for lunch, complemented with sprouts. So far Andy estimates he’s gobbled through 5,450 turkeys, 7,360 mince pies, 2,350 Christmas puddings and 62,050 sprouts.

But the credit crunch affected even Mr. Christmas and he had to cut back from one bottle of champagne a day to one every two days, a smaller turkey. He also buys just one Christmas tree instead of the usual two and puts up fewer twinkling lights. But he’s not going to let something as minor as a financial crisis ruin his celebrations.

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