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Fiona the hippo celebrates Christmas to the perfect song for her

Fiona the hippo is celebrating her first Christmas, and keepers at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden couldn't help but playing the perfect song while she opened her gift.Fiona was born six weeks premature in January and her survival against all odds has become an international sensation.

>> Read more trending news 

The holiday video was posted on the zoo's Facebook page, where Fiona has her own show. Fiona played with her holiday-decorated box and ate treats while "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" played in the background.The zoo wrote on its Facebook page, "We got a hippopotamus for Christmas!"

5 unique Christmas facts and traditions from around the world

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! With decorations popping up and cooler temperatures, the season is definitely upon us.

While you prepare for the holiday, with last minute shopping, finding the right tree and coordinating with family and friends, billions of others around the world will also be prepping for the season. Find out some interesting Christmas facts and how other nations around the world celebrate the season.

>> Read more trending news 

1. Lebanon

Home to 18 recognized religious groups, including several major Christian sects, Lebanon actually marks Christmas twice each year. Maronites, Protestants and Catholics celebrate the holiday on Dec. 25, as in the U.S. However, Lebanese Orthodox and much of the country's sizable Armenian population mark the day according to the Gregorian calendar, meaning the day is celebrated on Jan. 6. Both dates are official holidays in the country.

While the country also has a large Muslim population, the entire country lights up for the holiday. Beirut, the capital, annually features a prominent Christmas tree in the city center, next to a large mosque and cathedral, which stand side by side. Colorful lights illuminate neighborhoods throughout the country, and Christians and many Muslims mark the holiday by spending time with their families.

2. Venezuela

While it may be normal for Christians around the world to attend church on Christmas Day, residents of Caracas have decided to add a special twist. Each Christmas Eve, Venezuelans in the capital head to church ... on roller skates. Streets are shut down, just to make way for the mass of roller skaters making their way through the city.

Throughout the country, Venezuelans begin celebrating on Dec. 16, with special programs and church services happening each day until Christmas Day.

3. Philippines

Each year, on the Saturday before Christmas Eve, the city of San Fernando hosts The Giant Lantern Festival (Ligligan Parul Sampernandu). The festival has led to the city being dubbed the "Christmas Capital of the Philippines." Visitors from throughout the country and around the world come to take part in the festivities. As it's also a fierce competition, 11 barangays (villages) work tirelessly to build the most elaborate lanterns, attempting to outdo their neighbors.

The tradition comes from simple paper Japanese lanterns, no bigger than half a meter in diameter. Now, due to the competition, the lanterns can be made from a variety of materials and are up to six meters in size. Instead of candles, electric bulbs are used, sparkling in colorful designs.

4. Ghana

In Ghana, where more than 30 languages are spoken, each group has its own unique traditions associated with Christmas. However, overall, the population celebrates from Dec. 20 through the first week of January. What kid wouldn't love two weeks of Christmas?

Although there are celebrations during the entire Christmas season, the biggest parties take place on Christmas Eve. Church services, which people attend wearing their colorful traditional clothing, feature drumming and dancing, as well as nativity plays and singing in languages understood by most people.

5. Sweden

Ever since 1966, the Swedish city of Gävle has erected a massive 40-foot-tall Yule Goat in Castle Square to prepare for Christmas. But the goat doesn't always survive until the holiday.

The bizarre tradition has led to a related one, where city residents attempt to burn the goat. These efforts have been successful 29 times, with the most recent success being last year. 

Will the goat survive the 2017 season? When it goes up on Dec. 1, there will be a live stream so you can keep tabs for yourself.

Professor says 'Jingle Bells' is rooted in racism

It's one of the most famous Christmas carols, but a Boston University professor is calling it racist.

BU theater historian Kyna Hamill makes the argument in a research paper published earlier this year, “The story I must tell:" "Jingle Bells" in the Minstrel Repertoire.

"Jingle Bells" is a hometown favorite for people from Medford. It was written by James Lord Pierpont, and there's a plaque in the city commemorating where he wrote the song.

>> Read more trending news 

But Hamill said she looked into the history of the song, and of Pierpont's life. She said there's a different story entirely behind it.

"I don't have the definite answer to where he sat down and wrote the song," Hamill said in an interview for BU Today. "But—and this is where my town is going to be mad at me—it was absolutely not written in 1850 at the Simpson Tavern in Medford."

Hamill tracked down Pierpont's history, and found he was living in California in 1850, which is the year the song was allegedly written in Medford.

And that's not all, Boston25News reported.

Hamill found a playbill from the Harvard Theater Collection that shows the first time the song was performed was at Ordway Hall on Sept. 15, 1857, in blackface, during a minstrel show.

"The legacy of ‘Jingle Bells’ is, as we shall see, a prime example of a common misreading of much popular music from the nineteenth century in which its blackface and racist origins have been subtly and systematically removed from its history," Hamill argues in her research paper.

Hamill's research paper was published in September, Boston25News

Woman with dementia enjoys heartwarming visit with Santa

Santa Claus paid a special visit to a great-grandmother with dementia in New Mexico, proving that the magic of the season delights those of all ages.Santa stopped by The Hartsocks’ Photography studio in Albuquerque Dec. 9 to spend time with one of his older fans. Karen, a great-grandmother who has dementia, posed with Santa for several heartwarming photos. The photo shoot was arranged by her daughter-in-law, Linda Rangel, KRQE reported.

 >> Read more trending news 

Rangel said that even though her mother-in-law is in the latter stages of dementia, her love of Santa Claus has remained. The photo studio wrote on its Facebook page that Karen has visited Santa at the mall for years, and even sleeps with a Santa doll, which she speaks to in her native Japanese. Karen recently entered hospice care, and her family wanted to capture her love for Santa in a photo shoot.Santa gave Karen a busy blanket, designed to reduce restlessness and agitation in those with dementia.The Hartsocks’ Photography studio posted photos from Karen's visit with Santa on its Facebook page. 

Kwanzaa: 7 things to know

Kwanzaa is a relatively modern holiday that began just over 50 years ago. Since then, Kwanzaa has grown in popularity and has been commemorated with postage stamp designs and mentioned by several presidents as part of their holiday greetings. Unless you celebrate Kwanzaa, you may not be aware of the traditions and philosophy that are important to its meaning and celebration. Here are seven things to know about Kwanzaa.

>> Read more trending news Why and when it was created Kwanzaa was created in 1966 by Maulana Karenga, a black nationalist who became a college professor. He created the holiday in the aftermath of the Watts riots in Los Angeles as an effort to unite and empower the African-American community, and it was first celebrated that year. The origins of its name Inspired by traditional harvest festivals, Kwanzaa takes its name from a Swahili phrase, “matunda ya kwanza,” which means “first fruits.” Over 2,000 languages are spoken in Africa, so Swahili, which is spoken by millions, was chosen since it’s a unifying language. An extra “a” was added to the end of the original word because seven children each wanted to represent a letter at the first Kwanzaa celebration. Who can celebrate KwanzaaBecause it’s celebrated from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1, some people assume that Kwanzaa is an alternative to Christmas. It’s a cultural celebration that has a spiritual quality, but the holiday is not a religious one. And although it celebrates African culture, people of any race or ethnic background can participate in the holiday’s events and customs. Why it lasts for seven daysEach of the seven days of Kwanzaa is dedicated to a principle, which gives each day a specific meaning and purpose on which to focus. The seven principles are: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith. The colors of KwanzaaThe colors of Kwanzaa are black, red and green, and they’re used to represent unity for people of African descent worldwide. Black represents the people, red for their noble blood that unites them and green for the rich land of Africa. The meaning of the candelabraA seven-branched candelabra called a kinara is used to help discuss and celebrate the principles, with a new candle being lit each night. One is black, three are red and three are green, and the black candle is placed in the center. The black candle, which represents unity, is lit on the first day of Kwanzaa. Red candles are placed to the left and green to the right and are lit in that order. The order of the candles indicates that the people come first, followed by the struggle and then hope. The importance of foodFood is an important part of many holidays, and Kwanzaa is no exception. Many people celebrate with their favorite African-American dishes – along with traditional African, Caribbean and other appropriate recipes – throughout the week. The holiday culminates with a feast (known as Karamu) on Dec. 31, with dishes meant to symbolize the past as well as the current growth of African culture. 

Christmas 2017: Top ugly holiday sweater ideas

In recent years, the combination of Christmas and tacky sweaters has taken on a life of its own. Festive people aspire to wear the ugliest holiday sweater possible. Whether it’s including as many adornments as possible, breaking out a ratty and worn polyester pullover or sporting animals in full holiday cheer, here’s a roundup of ugly Christmas sweater ideas to inspire you. Shiny wreathWhat’s says Christmas more than a wreath with a little shine? Take your Christmas tackiness to a new level with a shiny wreath pinned to your red or green sweater. For a little extra bling, string some lights to the wreath and load with a battery pack to keep it shining. The fireplaceIf the coziness of sitting by a blazing fire in the winter tickles your fancy, you’ll love this ugly Christmas sweater idea. This sweater can be pre-purchased with a trimmed fireplace and a pocket in the middle of sweater for your phone. Download an app on your phone to provide virtual flames. Trim the treeGet your craftiness ready to whirl with this shiny and embellished sweater. You’ll need shiny garland, small ornaments and lots of glue, but the end result is a tree to inspire even the grinchiest with a smidge of Christmas spirit. By the way: Don’t forget the ornament to top the tree.

>> Read more trending stories Stuffed stockingNeed some wine or sweet treats to keep you going through the holiday season? This stocking stuffer sweater is just what you need. A beer lover’s ChristmasYet another DIY ugly Christmas sweater idea, this one entails the usage of hundreds of bottle tops to make a Christmas tree. Take a red or green sweater and gather all your bottle tops. Arrange them on the sweater and glue them into the shape of a tree. Top off the tree with a metallic bow for a touch of glitz. Snow globeBring the wishes of a White Christmas to life with this ugly Christmas sweater in the fashion of a snow globe. Take a plastic tablecloth and fold in half, being careful to stuff it with the insides with a pillow to look like artificial snow. An ugly tie tree For this creation, all of the old ugly ties of Christmases pasts can be put to good use. Gather your ugly Christmas ties and arrange them in a tree pattern on an old sweater. Easy peasy Christmas sweater to don at all your holiday parties in the season. Matching couple sweaters Want to look tacky as a pair? Wear the ugliest Christmas sweater connected to one other person to have double the fun and double the tackiness. Rudolph the Red-Nosed ReindeerPay homage to Santa’s favorite reindeer and favorite helper of them all with this Christmas sweater. Start with a black sweater vest and decorate with big eyes and a red nose. Layer a brown long-sleeved shirt underneath the sweater vest, attaching stems to look like antlers on your sleeves.

Titans, Vols players offer support to bullying victim who made heartbreaking viral video

When a boy from the Knoxville, Tennessee, area was revealed to be a victim of bullying, players for the Tennessee Titans and Vols football teams decided to step up.

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A video went viral Friday afternoon of a Knoxville boy detailing the bullying he had endured at school.

>> Watch the heartbreaking clip here

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

University of Tennessee sophomore receiver Tyler Byrd and freshman quarterback Jarrett Guarantano both pledged to visit the boy and offer support.

Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker responded with his own video and invited the boy and his family to an upcoming game.

>> Click here to watch

– The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

Thief steals Salvation Army donation kettle filled with money

Someone stole a Salvation Army donation kettle filled with money from a south Tulsa, Oklahoma, Walmart on Saturday.

>> Watch the news report here

Officials said the kettle was padlocked to its tripod, which was also taken. The tripod and credit card machine were recovered, but the kettle was not.

"A kettle at a location like this will average at least $800 in a day. We may also be looking at repair costs for the equipment and replacing the kettle," said Capt. Ken Chapman, area commander of the Salvation Army Tulsa Metro Command.

The organization said the theft is especially distressing because the group is running about 20 percent behind on donations.

"I will admit, we are concerned. We only have 12 days left to catch up on donations," Chapman said.

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Dec. 23 is that last day kettles will be out in Tulsa. The campaign started Nov. 10 with a goal of raising $700,000.

"Each dollar, each dime, each nickel placed in a red kettle translates into services in our community for the homeless, hungry and downtrodden. The kettle donations don't just help at Christmas, but all year," Chapman said.

Donations to the Salvation Army can also be made online and by calling 918-587-7801.

WATCH: Two men wanted for setting homeowner's Christmas wreath on fire

Police in Arizona are looking for a pair of grinches who instead of stealing Christmas set afire a holiday symbol. Surveillance footage from the early morning hours of Dec. 3 shows two men approaching the front door of a home in Phoenix, reported. Video footage shows the pair dousing the door's Christmas wreath with lighter fluid before setting it on fire with a lighter.

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The homeowner was asleep at the time of the incident.Police are seeking the public's help in capturing the suspects.

Top 10 Elf on the Shelf ideas

A holiday tradition sparked by “The Elf on the Shelf,” the children's book published in 2005, has since taken on a life of its own. The idea is to have fun placing an elf in random areas around the house performing various activities, to distract the little ones from the note-taking elf is doing for Santa for his naughty or nice lists. Here’s a rundown of the most popular Elf on the Shelf ideas, based on parent blogs. Gone fishing Let the elf go fishing with no body of water required. Position your elf on the rim of a toilet. Give him a toothbrush for a fishing rod and string floss through the teeth for the line. Toss the end of the line in the toilet water and your elf is occupied for hours or more. Sack raceRe-imagine the good old days of field day during the school years with creating a challenge for the elf. Roll down small paper sacks and stuff the elf inside. Pair some friends, Barbies, stuffed animals, action figures, to make the sack race a competition.

>> Read more trending news Shaving What’s a day of pampering if it doesn’t include shaving? Set up your elf for some quality time solo right by the sink with all he needs to get his shave on: shaving cream, a razor, skin moisturizer. Dab some shaving cream on his face to get him started. Clever disguiseHidden in plain sight is the name of the game for this elf on the shelf idea. Take the ingenious approach to hiding your elf within the Christmas tree to do his pertinent work scouting out to report back to Santa. Paint his face with paint to take it a step further and complete the disguise. Date nightEveryone needs some romance in their life and your elf isn’t in the least exempt. Set up a romantic date with Barbie to keep your elf occupied. Maybe while he’s schmoozing with Barbie he can take his focus off who belongs on the nice or naughty list. At least one can hope that is what happens. Photoshoot Strike a pose and get elf ready for his close-up. Build a DIY photo booth with wrapping paper, a camera and a few friends to join in on the fun. Add in paper mustaches and Barbie dolls to make photo-taking a blast. Lego worldNot much pre-planning required for this elf idea. Gather a bucket of Legos into any shape, form or fashion and put your elf in the midst of it. Build a fort, house or container for the elf to get comfy in or hide to take his notes. Breakfast time Elves get hungry, too, especially one who is as hard at work as these elves on the shelves. Behind this top idea is making bite-sized eats the elf can enjoy. You can choose breakfast and make dime-sized pancakes or easy translate the idea to other meals: small sandwiches for lunchtime, itty bitty desserts. Emails from Santa Let your elf make good use of technology and the spare desktop computer, laptops or tablets for his leisure activity. Prop him up near any one of these and pen a letter the elf is writing to Santa to technologically update him on how the children are behaving. After all, Santa must know if your children are being naughty or nice. Bedtime After a full day of exploring the world, or rather house, around him to make sure the children are behaving, your elf will most likely need a nap. Retire him to dreamland on a Kleenex box. Folded tissues make a nice and compact pillow and of course, the single sheets of tissue snug covers to tuck your elf in for a satisfying nap or good night of rest.

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