Christmas and other joyful festivals take place around the world this time of year. People of different cultures celebrate according to their customs and traditions. Jewish Hanukkah, the eight-day event also known as the Festival of Lights, is an important ceremony on the Jewish calendar. For children, the highlights include tasting the delicious fried potato pancakes and the gelt - small amounts of money - they are given. They also play dreidel, a game with a spinning top. Candle-lighting and songs commemorate the biblical miracle of the jar of oil that burned for eight days. The consumption of dried foods emphasises the significance of oil. A new candle on a menorah - a candlestick with eight branches - is lit in Jewish homes on each night of the festival. During the ceremony, students and teachers seek blessings and sing in Hebrew. Coptic Members of the Coptic Church, mainly in Egypt, celebrate Christmas on December 7. During the 40 days of Advent before Christmas, the faithful fast and are not allowed to eat meat or dairy products. Some people only abstain during the final week. On Christmas Eve, everyone goes to church in new clothes. The Christmas service ends at midnight with the ringing of church bells. People then return home for a special meal known as fata, consisting of bread, rice, garlic and boiled meat. People visit friends and neighbours in the morning and take along kaik, a type of shortbread, which is washed down with a drink called shortbat. Ethiopian The Ethiopian Christmas, Ganna, is celebrated on January 7. Mass takes place in ancient churches carved from solid volcanic rock, or in modern churches built in three concentric circles. Men and women are separat ed and the choir sings from outside the circles. People receive candles as they enter the church. After lighting them, everyone walks around the church three times. People stand throughout the mass, which may last up to three hours. Sourdough pancakes called injera and doro wat, a spicy chicken stew, are eaten. Children are usually given clothing as gifts. German In Germany, Christmas preparations often begin on Decem ber 6. People set aside special evenings to bake spiced cakes and biscuits and make gifts and decorations. Beautiful gingerbread houses and Christbaumgeback, pastries used to decorate the Christmas tree, are made. Little dolls made of fruit are traditional Christmas toys. Children leave letters on their window sills for Christkind, a winged figure dressed in a white robe and golden crown who distributes gifts. Mexican The holiday season in sunny Mexico is as warm and colourful as a tropical garden. Festivities begin with Las Posadas, the nine days of candlelight processions and lively parties starting on December 16. Young people gather each afternoon to stage Nativity plays. Professional and amateur groups also re-enact the story of Christ's birth. Christmas Eve is celebrated with a late-night mass. Then people head home for a traditional Christmas supper which can range from simple corn gruel to more exotic cod, wild greens, hot fruit punch and cider. The Day of Holy Innocents on December 28 is a religious commemoration of King Herod's ordering the slaughter of all male babies in an attempt to kill Jesus. In Mexico, people celebrate it with jokes and pranks, similar to our April Fool's Day.