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The Independent Travel
23 Dec

Philippines

Giant dancing lanterns mounted on huge tractors are the order of the day in Paskuhan Village, during the best parade of lanterns in the country - the San Fernando Giant Lantern Festival. These multicoloured lampshades sport designs unique to this area, and throw out a kaleidoscopic pattern of lights that bounce around in time to the music of the accompanying bands.

Mexico

Radishes are not the first thing that springs to mind when contemplating the birth of Christ, but in the city of Oaxaca they feature heavily on the festive menu. Noche de Rbanos, or Night of The Radishes, finds families converging on the city Plaza to sell their wares; intricate nativity carvings, entirely crafted out of radishes. This vegetable-art is accompanied by bunuelos - syrupy, deep-fried tortillas with extra sugar. The clay platters on which these artery-challenging delicacies are served, are then smashed in celebration of the birth of Jesus.

24 - 25 Dec

France

Provence (above) is one of the regions where Christmas traditions have been faithfully upheld. The Shepherd's festival sees the nativity scene bought to life in the churches of Arles, Les Baux and all around the Provence countryside during midnight mass, and local craftsmen carve figurines or santons for the crib. The main event - the food - happens after midnight mass and culminates sometime in the early hours of the morning with a course of 13 desserts.

28 Dec

Russia

Performed for a rapt and wrapped-up audience against a backdrop of endless snow - The Tales of the Kolomenskoe Woods is a fairy tale event held in a medieval tsarist palace grounds just 10 miles south of the Kremlin. Aimed at the smaller members of Moscow's populace, this old-style folklore bash enacts traditional tales, myths and fables.

28 Dec

Ethiopia

The Feast of St Gabriel is dedicated to the most generous of the Orthodox Ethiopian saints. Thousands of all creeds make pilgrimage from across the country to this huge wish-fest in the town of Kullubi, as Gabriel is said to grant more requests than your average saint. Many walk the last kilometres with boulders strapped to their backs to demonstrate their piety. Expect to see a great many women with boulder-like stomachs as St Gabriel's particular speciality is granting the wish for pregnancy.

Sarah Barrell

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