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Highlights from the world's press

Compiled by Ravi Agrawal for CNN
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(CNN) -- It's that time of the year again, and newspapers around the world been devoting more than a few column inches to Christmas news.

Here are a few articles from around the world, presented in true Dickensian, Christmas Carol order.

We'll start with "Bah, humbug" ...

If you've been traveling -- or trying to travel -- out of London or Denver, Colorado these last couple of days, "Bah, humbug" would be an apt, if understated, reaction.

Numerous flights from London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports have been cancelled because of intense fog.

The UK's Times sums it up best, saying "for those in peril in the fog, the heart goes out. For those herded into concentration tents at airports until the planes take off again, we shudder."

There is, however, a lesson to be learned from this: stay at home!

"Home is still the place for Christmas. Tradition and literature support this opinion. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight spend Christmas at Camelot. Greasy Joan doth keel the pot for Christmas, and Dingley Dell is the apotheosis of Christmas. In The Wind in the Willows, Mole is content to rest from his adventures at Dulce Domum for Christmas. East, West, home is best at this time of year. You know it makes sense."

In Denver, Colorado, a snow storm may have grounded most travelers looking to either return home or head to their relatives' homes for Christmas; but as The Denver Post tells us, the weather hasn't dampened spirits.

"Considering that 26 inches of snow blanketed Denver (drifts were often far deeper), it took hearty souls to make their way to work the plows and sand trucks that have started to make roadways passable. Others have been clearing parking lots, running RTD's light-rail trains and opening up markets and other shops... Storms are aggravating, but they bring out the best in our community."

The Ghost of Christmas Past: Homer Simpson, and inflatable Santas

On a recent quiet afternoon, with few witnesses around, Homer Simpson, Santa Claus and a penguin perched on an igloo suddenly appeared on the Long Island landscape as if from nowhere, unfolding slowly like Frankenstein monsters lurching to life on the table. As Homer's extremities reached full size, his pink nylon fist puffed into Snow Man's face -- an involuntary attack, to be sure. Bop.

Such is, according to the International Herald Tribune, the phantasmagoric, Disney-esque experience of the new Christmas custom sweeping the suburbs of New York.

"Whatever else Christmas in America means -- the birth of Jesus, holly wreaths, the Chipmunks, cultural tension -- it now also includes these gargantuan, inflatable outdoor decorations, called 'Airblowns' by their chief manufacturer."

But for those who do not like -- inflated, deflated -- the whole thing, the paper says there is hope at hand.

"For the purists, the old-fashioned stuff is still out there: the strings of lights along the gutters, the lighted tin soldiers, crèches. The homemade wooden Rudolph with blinking red nose, hauled out of storage every Christmas for 45 years and put up on Frank and Diana Culmones's roof in Franklin Square."

The Ghost of Christmas Present: Rats, Bats, and Barramundi ...

Reuters in Singapore reports on how dogs, bats, Kentucky Fried Chicken and barramundi will grace dinner tables across the Asia Pacific this Christmas, in non-Christian regions where the festival is celebrated with very little turkey, but lots of cheer.

"In Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country, which also has a substantial Christian community, Christmas feasts include delicacies such as pork soaked in blood and dog meat."

It gets better: "In the eastern island of Sulawesi, some Manado Christians swear by kawok, or garden rats, cooked with chilies and garlic, and paniki, or bats, cooked in coconut milk."

But if you like celebrating early, you might want to head to the Philippines:

"Chinese sweet ham is a popular centerpiece for Christmas Eve dinner in the Philippines, where the affluent serve up roast pig or turkey. Filipinos pride themselves on celebrating the longest Christmas in the world, with decorations going up in September."

In Japan, people head to Kentucky -- Kentucky Fried Chicken, of course, which offers a bottle of wine with its chicken on Christmas Day, with sales running ten times as high as normal. But Christmas cake in Japan will never taste the same after you hear this:

"In Japan, many families opt for a plain sponge cake topped with whipped cream and strawberries. As delicious as it sounds, the term 'Christmas cake' was long used to refer to unmarried women over the age of 25, who were said to be past their best, like cakes after December 25."

And in case you were wondering what barramundi is, you're probably not Australian. It's a type of fish, and the name is borrowed from an aboriginal language in which it means "large scales." Down Under, where Christmas falls in high summer, an Australian Christmas lunch is more likely to be seafood and salad than roast turkey and pudding.

The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come: Podcasts!

In England, King George V delivered the first royal Christmas broadcast live on the radio more than 70 years ago, from Sandringham in 1932, as The Telegraph reports in England. Well, times have changed, and this year you can get a Christmas Day message on a podcast! Not from the ghost of Christmas-Yet-to-Come, but from the reigning Queen Elizabeth II herself. And you can order it free from the British Monarchy Web site on link.

"Prince William and Prince Harry and other young members of the royal family such as Zara and Peter Phillips, the children of the Princess Royal, have MP3 players but it was not clear last night if the Queen has one of her own to download her favorite music ... Last night a Buckingham Palace spokesman said: 'The Queen's grandchildren have kept her up to date. She is aware of iPods and downloading, but, I honestly cannot say if she has one herself.'"

And as Tiny Tim would end it ... "God bless us, every one."

Anxious about Christmas shopping you still haven't done? Or about shopping gone wrong? The New Yorker has a fascinating article on the economics behind giving gift cards in the holiday season. The National Retail Federation in the U.S. says Americans will buy close to twenty-five billion dollars' worth of gift cards this season, up thirty-four percent from last year. But does our (in)competence at gift giving even matter? Not really, says this article. This one isn't about the money. It's the thought that counts.

"If most of the presents we buy are going to be less valuable in monetary terms than in sentimental ones, then there's no reason to believe that the more expensive gift is a better gift. In fact, the more we spend at Christmas, the more we waste. We might actually be happier - and we'd certainly be wealthier - if we exchanged small, well-considered gifts rather than haunting the malls. Calculating the deadweight loss of Christmas gifts is a coldhearted project, but it leads to a paradoxically warmhearted conclusion: the fact of giving may be more important than what you give."


In Sulawesi, Indonesia, bats in coconut milk are a popular Christmas delicacy

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