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From the beautiful to the bizarre: 6 Christmas traditions from around Asia

Maya Taylor

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From the beautiful to the bizarre: 6 Christmas traditions from around Asia | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Korean Drama Choa
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Wherever you find yourself on Christmas Day this year, it’s sure to be slightly different to previous years – or even extremely different, depending on how severe the Covid-19 situation is in your location. But in happier, more normal times, these 6 Asian countries have their own unique ways in which to celebrate the holiday.

Eating KFC in Japan
Did you know it’s tradition in Japan to eat Kentucky Fried Chicken for Christmas? The custom comes from a 1974 KFC marketing campaign, called “Kentucky for Christmas!” (Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii!) The campaign’s initial aim was to offer Western expats in Japan an alternative to the traditional Christmas turkey meal. It proved so successful the people of Japan would queue for hours at KFC outlets to get their “Christmas” food. It has since evolved into people pre-ordering their KFC meals, accompanied by strawberry sponge cake and wine.

Mango and banana trees in India
In India, the Christmas trees are actually mango and banana trees, instead of the traditional pine tree seen in Western countries. And Santa arrives on a horse and cart, instead of a reindeer-drawn sleigh. It’s also traditional in southern India for Christians to burn small oil and clay lamps on the roofs of their homes.

Bright lights, big city in Hong Kong
Hong Kong does Christmas with an abundance of festive lights and decorations. Victoria Harbour is the place to be to see twinkling lights synchronised to music at set showtimes. There’s also WinterFest, an annual winter festival organised by the Hong Kong Tourism Board and once described by CNN as one of the Top 10 places in the world to spend Christmas.

Puppet shows in Indonesia
On the Indonesian island of Java, people in the city of Yogyakarta watch a Wayang Kulit show, which is a shadow-puppet performance depicting the birth of Jesus. Residents also come together and spread white powder on each other’s faces, a ritual that symbolises cleansing away old mistakes in preparation for the new year.

Haraboji, the Korean “Santa”
South Korea has its own Father Christmas, known as Haraboji, which means, “grandfather”. Unlike the Western Santa, the Korean version is dressed in green and wears a traditional Korean hat, known as a gat. Koreans also have the traditional Christmas tree, but they decorate theirs with silk slippers and drums. And for the Christmas meal, bulgogi (Korean barbecued beef) takes the place of turkey.

Lanterns in the Philippines
The Philippines are predominantly Catholic, so Christmas is a big deal, with the country starting preparations as early as September. Following the church service on Christmas Day, families enjoy a big meal that includes stuffed chicken, sticky rice, and fruit cake. They also celebrate with parol lanterns, which are made from bamboo and rice paper and star-shaped to represent the star of Bethlehem. It’s thought the lanterns were originally used years ago to light the way to church in the dark. Their use has now evolved into an annual tradition, with competitions held to see who can come up with the most beautiful design.

SOURCE: TripZilla

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    Mike

    Friday, December 25, 2020 at 9:39 pm

    The light show in Victoria Harbour isn’t a Christmas tradition. It takes place every day of the year at 8pm.

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World

15,000+ Covid-19 patients in Japan on waiting list for hospitals and health care accommodations

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15,000+ Covid-19 patients in Japan on waiting list for hospitals and health care accommodations | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Kyodo News

Thousands of people in Japan who are infected with Covid-19 are on the waiting list for hospitals or other accommodations for those with the virus due to the rising number of cases. Kyoto News conducted a survey and reports at least 15,058 are on the waiting list for proper treatment and accommodation.

The number of new infections in Japan has been growing sharply since last November. Last Tuesday, Japan saw a rapid increase of new infections, including Tokyo. According to the WHO’s report as of yesterday, Japan recorded 4,587 new cases, 360,661 confirmed cases and 5,019 deaths.

In Japan, local public health officials are in charge of arranging hospital stays and treatment for people infected with the virus as well as the appropriate accommodation for people with mild symptoms. The process of making those arrangements is taking longer, and the newly infected people are forced to stay home because of bed shortages. Some are reported dead in their houses.

A survey by Kyodo News found Tokyo had the most infected people waiting to be hospitalised or accommodated at other facilities, jumping 4.8 times from 1,563 as of December 19 to 7,539. Every prefecture has reported a similar rise.

On January 7, Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga declared a state of emergency for 11 prefectures out of a total of 47 prefectures until February 7. Under the state of emergency, people are asked to stay home and restaurants are urged to shorten their opening hours.

SOURCE: Kyodo News

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Anti-lockdown protests in the Netherlands turn violent, Covid-19 testing centre burnt down

Caitlin Ashworth

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Anti-lockdown protests in the Netherlands turn violent, Covid-19 testing centre burnt down | The Thaiger
Screenshot via The Independent

Violence broke out in the Netherlands and a Covid-19 testing centre was burnt down after a nationwide curfew was imposed over the weekend to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. In Eindhoven and Amsterdam, riot police deployed water cannons to disperse the crowds of anti-lockdown protesters.

The Netherlands has been under a tough lockdown since mid-December, leading to clashes between anti-lockdown protesters and police. Just last week, police in Amsterdam used the water cannon on hundreds of protesters. Local officials say the riot police had been called to break up the crowd because people weren’t abiding by social distancing measures.

On Saturday, a new 9pm to 4:30am curfew was imposed, tightening the already tough restrictions. As the curfew went into effect that night, rioters set fire to a portable coronavirus testing facility by a harbour in Urk, a fishing town around 80 kilometres northeast of Amsterdam. That night and early the next morning, 3,600 people in the Netherlands were fined for breaching the new curfew. Police say 25 people were arrested for breaching the curfew and violence.

Local officials say the riots in Urk were a “slap in the face, especially for the local health authority staff who do all they can at the test centre to help people from Urk.”

The next day, in the southern city Eindhoven, rioters threw rocks at police and set fires in the centre of the city. Riot police used water cannons and tear gas to break up the crowds. Rocks and shattered glass littered a central square in the city. At least 55 people were arrested, according to the Associated Press.

In the capital of Amsterdam, police used a water cannon to break up a group of anti-lockdown protesters. The Associated Press says more than 100 people were arrested.

SOURCE: Associated Press

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Crime

Asia’s biggest drug kingpin arrested in Netherlands

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Asia’s biggest drug kingpin arrested in Netherlands | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Sky News

Asia’s biggest drug kingpin is under arrest in the Netherlands after years of authorities chasing him worldwide. 57 year old Tse Chi Lop, a Chinese-born Canadian citizen, was arrested by Dutch police acting on a request by Australia’s federal police.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime named him as the suspected leader of the Asian mega-cartel known as “Sam Gor”, a major producer and supplier of methamphetamines worldwide. Tse is commonly compared to the Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

Sam Gor is suspected of laundering billions in drug money through businesses such as casinos, real estate and hotels in Southeast Asia’s Mekong region. Australia’s federal police said Friday’s arrest came after a 2012 operation that arrested 27 people linked to a crime syndicate spanning five countries. The groups was accused of importing large amounts of heroin and methamphetamine into Australia, according to police.

“The syndicate targeted Australia over a number of years, importing and distributing large amounts of illicit narcotics, laundering the profits overseas and living off the wealth obtained from crime.”

The arrest of Tse Chi Lop almost 10 years after that operation’s launch is a major break for Australian authorities. The country’s attorney-general will now begin preparing a formal extradition request for the alleged drug lord to face trial.

Most of Asia’s meth comes from “Golden Triangle” border areas between Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and southwest China. The production of methamphetamine, either in tablet form or the highly potent crystalised “ice” version, take place in Myanmar’s eastern north Shan state. Ketamine and fentanyl are also produced there as well, mostly in ‘portable’ labs that hide underneath the thick rainforest canopy.

In 2018 alone, Thailand netted more than 515 million methamphetamine tablets, a number 17 times the amount for the entire Mekong region 10 years ago. Traffickers are constantly finding more creative ways to ship their products as drug busts are featured daily on the news in those regions.

SOURCE: The Bangkok Post

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