As the year begins to draw to a close and Christmas and New Year approach, it’s a good time to explore how people around the world celebrate.

Did you know that while all countries that celebrate Christmas have Christmas trees, they’re not always fir? Sometimes fig or palm trees are decorated and lit. Nativity scenes are popular inclusions in home decorations, people gather to sing carols, and present giving is fairly universal.

Santa Claus has different names abroad. In Britain he’s known as Father Christmas and in France he’s Père Noël. In the Netherlands he’s St Nicholas or Sinter Klaas.

In Germany, children receive their gifts from Christkind, a sprite-like child considered to be an angelic messenger.

Swedish children get their gifts from Tomte, a gnome who lives in the forest and arrives by sleigh.

In Russia, the presents come from Babouschka, a kindly old grandmother in a headscarf whereas in Italy it’s a good witch called La Befana. Her name possibly comes from Epiphany, which is celebrated on 6th January.

Surprisingly, Christmas Day is a public holiday even in non-Christian countries, such as Singapore, South Korea, Pakistan, Lebanon, Indonesia, India, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Bangladesh and Malaysia.

Wherever you live, and I know we have puzzlers from every corner of the globe, we wish you a very Happy Christmas!

Happy Puzzling!