What's going on around the globe It's that time of the year again, when thousands of Santa's little helpers in Tokyo start preparing presents for boys and girls who've been good. And the top gifts this season are restaurant seats, hotel reservations and ... party packs of flavoured condoms. Japan's reinvention of western traditions and culture is a thing of wonder. Valentine's Day has been retooled as 'buy-your-boss-chocolate-day', weddings are held in gaudy chapels with fake priests and 'hymns' by John Lennon and Queen, and Christmas Eve is an excuse for mass fornication. Old St Nick is spinning in his grave. This Saturday, thousands of under-30s will be on 'dating courses', usually involving a trip to somewhere like Tokyo Disneyland, a meal and the, er, climax - an overnight stay in a hotel. The most popular hotels are booked out by late November. Many hotels sell Christmas deals aimed at couples. One hotel in Osaka, for example, offers a one-night package complete with presents, an original stuffed animal and a small Christmas tree. Guests can also wallow in a rose-scented bubble bath and have a commemorative photo taken: a snip at just over 50,000 yen (about HK$ 3,361). For those who can't afford such extravagance, there's always the ubiquitous love hotels, which charge by the hour and are usually packed on Christmas Eve. All this festive fornication naturally takes a terrible toll on the national supply of prophylactics. Sales of condoms rise 20-30 per cent in December. 'Christmas is a very important time for us,' says the manager of Condomania on Tokyo's Omotesando. Novelty condoms fly off the shelves - a sign that youngsters are the main buyers. If you're offended by this cheerfully left-field take on Christmas, Tokyo also has lots to offer traditionalists. Few cities put on more extravagant displays of yule lights, which start blinking from the Odaiba artificial seafront to Takashimaya Times Square in Shinjuku. Churches become so popular some have to raffle tickets. But let's face it, some things are just weird. Ignore for a minute the leggy women in sexy Santa costumes who start popping up on TV, the mild national Christmas-cake obsession and the odd mix of products on offer, such as 'romantic Christmas helicopter rides' across Tokyo (about HK$1,344). What about the sudden seasonal passion for a certain well-known fried chicken product - the nearest most Japanese people get to turkey - or the Yokohama artificial beach that once rented inflatable Santas to keep 'bathers' company. And as for what goes on in Tokyo's red-light district of Kabukicho, don't even go there. All this is followed by a hangover and the slog to the office. December 25 is a normal working day in Japan, so it's heads down until the New Year holiday: two days at home with mum and dad drinking sake and eating sticky rice dumplings. This is what the family season is all about, right?