With gratitude to The Writer's Almanac.
CHRISTMAS, DECEMBER 25TH
On this day Christ was born
though the actual day is not known
with certainty, experts agree
it was most likely
in the spring and not 1 A.D.
but 4 B.C.
they dive into icy lakes then out
for a stint in the sauna
which is how they celebrate.
In Australia it’s mid-summer,
they reach for towels,
sandals and suntan lotion
and make barbecues at the beach.
The Chinese decorate paper lanterns
and light them, and in Spain
children fill shoes
with straw, carrots and barley
and leave them on windowsills
for Balthazar's donkey to nibble.
Venezuelan kids tie long strings to their toes
before going to bed
and hang them out the window.
People rollerskate to Mass
next morning and tug the strings
as they roll by.
The custom in Mexico
includes smashing candy-filled piñatas
while in Brazil they observe the Mass of the Rooster
and Father Christmas wears a silk suit
because it's so hot.
In Greece St. Nick arrives not on sleigh
but drenched in seawater
from trying to rescue drowning sailors. Since
they don't have Christmas trees in Greece
instead they hang crosses
wrapped in basil on wires
from the rims of small bowls of water.
Once a day the crosses are dipped
and water is sprinkled around houses
to protect them from bad luck;