While You're Waiting for Jesus, How About a Nice Cola?

Plus: When Halloween season really starts bleeding into Christmastime, and other stories from around the world.

Preparing for the coming of a refreshing soft drink
The world's largest Advent calendar was unveiled Friday in Birmingham, England. The billboard-sized calendar, 180 feet wide by 50 feet high, hangs on the town's city hall. Each night at 6 o'clock, one of its windows pops open to reveal something inside (exactly what's inside isn't being revealed by any media). The calendar, however, is more than the size of a billboard; it is a billboard. The focus isn't Advent, it's Santa and Coca-Cola (the beverage company paid for the calendar). Coca-Cola's U.K site promises to have more information about the Advent calendar on its site, but hasn't done anything yet.

The Birmingham display is only the latest in a trend of secularized Advent calendars. The Washington Times sent a reporter to find Christian Advent calendars (Advent, you'll remember, is a time of preparing for Christ's coming). It wasn't easy. One store offered 16 different calendars: only one "was of a quasi-religious nature, showing angels hovering over a Christmas tree." A Barnes & Noble store also offered only one religious Advent calendar. Borders didn't have any. "What we are seeing is the neutering of Christmas and Easter in everything from calendars to commercial establishments," says Catholic League communications director Patrick Scully. "Advent calendars now feature Teddy Bears instead of religious imagery." (Thanks to HolyWeblog for noting this story.)

Not everything bad this Christmas is secular. Christians are protesting a Christmas display at the Edinburgh Dungeon. It's not the elves impaled on spikes, robins roasting on an open fire, or Santa Claus boiling in a witch's cauldron. It's the center of the display, where Satan has replaced his anagram, Santa, in ...

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April
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