Chatter: Christmas celebrated around the world




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Need to know:

Millions of Christians around the world are celebrating Christmas. At the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI marked Christmas Eve with Mass at St. Peter's Basilica. In Bethlehem, Christians flocked to Manger Square to mark the birth of Jesus.

Meanwhile in Newtown, Conn., parishioners gathered at St. Rose of Lima church, where one of the young victims of the Dec. 14 school massacre would have been performing in a Christmas pageant. Other residents of Newtown lit candles outside their homes, and hung empty stockings bearing the names of the 26 victims.

Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first black president, spent Christmas day at a Pretoria hospital where he is recovering from a lung infection and gallstone surgery. He was visited this morning by President Jacob Zuma, who said Mandela is "in good spirits" and "looking much better."

Want to know:

Two volunteer firefighters were shot and killed, and two others injured, after arriving to help put out a fire in upstate New York.

Police said the four were shot in an "apparent trap" as they arrived at the emergency call in the town of Webster, near Lake Ontario, early Monday. The gunfire stopped firefighters from battling the blaze for several hours.

The gunman, who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, was identified as 62-year-old William Spengler, a convicted felon.

"These people get up in the middle of the night to fight fires. They don’t expect to be shot and killed," Webster Police Chief Gerald Pickering said.

Dull but important:

The results of a referendum on Egypt's contentious new draft constitution have been delayed as officials look into allegations of fraud.

Early results suggested that more than 60 percent of voters backed the document, which was drafted by an Islamist-dominated body and endorsed by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.

The document was voted on under a cloud of controversy after weeks of deadly clashes.

If the constitution passes, elections must take place within two months, and the deep polarization in Egypt is likely to continue, the BBC said.

Just because:

It’s not Christmas at the White House without a jaw-dropping gingerbread house.

In a departure from tradition, pastry chefs at the US president's home this year chose to model the White House pre-1798, before it was painted white.

The 2012 gingerbread house also features a candy replica of First Lady Michelle Obama’s kitchen garden, including kale, endive, turnips, cabbage, radishes, sweet potatoes and bok choy made of marzipan and a candy beehive.

With all that gingerbread deliciousness close at hand, will the First Family be able to restrain itself from breaking off a piece here or there?

Strange but true:

For some people, getting into the Christmas spirit is as easy as singing a Christmas carol. For others, the spirit could hit after a sip of eggnog.

But for a special few, getting into the Christmas spirit takes lights. Lots and lots of lights.

Check out a few of the homes that can probably be seen from space (or at least from Santa's sleigh) thanks to a few thousand twinkling little lights.