On December 31, 2020, people around the world let out a collective sigh of relief that the difficult and unpredictable year, which tested our resilience in numerous ways, had finally ended. Though the COVID-19 pandemic's continued threat resulted in one of the most muted New Year's Eve celebrations in recent history, a few countries were able to ring in 2021 in style.
Canada's WestJet Airlines is famous for its annual "Christmas Miracle" videos. In the past, the heartwarming footage has shown the airline's employees surprising a few, unsuspecting families with extravagant gifts, ranging from iPods to vacations to diamond rings. While the 2020 "Christmas Miracle" did not involve any fancy presents, it is equally uplifting and much more far-reaching.
For most Americans, Christmas celebrations entail decorating homes with lights and wreaths, putting up Christmas trees, finding meaningful gifts for loved ones, and, of course, binge-watching holiday classics like Elf and Home Alone. However, not everyone observes the holiday in the same way. Here are some unique and wonderful Christmas traditions from around the world.
Mention goldfish, and the image that comes to mind is that of small, colorful creatures swimming in circles in fish bowls or home aquariums. However, the one recently discovered by biologists conducting a fish survey at a South Carolina lake was no ordinary goldfish - it was a 9-pound, 15-inch-long behemoth!
On November 24, 2020, President Donald Trump exercised his executive powers for a beloved Thanksgiving tradition — the turkey pardon. The gorgeous toms, dubbed "Corn" and "Cob," were raised at an Iowa family farm owned by National Turkey Federation Chairman Ron Kardel, a 6th generation turkey, corn, and soybean farmer. The lucky birds will spend the rest of their days under the watchful eyes of animal science students at Iowa State University.
While giant panda cubs are always popular, 22-year-old Mei Xiang's latest offspring, born at the Smithsonian's National Zoo on August 21, 2020, is particularly so. The daily live-stream of the adorable male cub, whose birth brought much-needed cheer during the COVID-19 pandemic, has garnered over a million virtual visitors. Hence, it is only fitting that zoo officials are asking fans to help name the precious 12-week-old.
When 22-year-old giant panda Mei Xiang gave birth to a healthy cub on August 21, 2020, Smithsonian's National Zoo officials were both excited and anxious. That's because giant panda cubs, which weigh about 100 grams — the equivalent of a stick of butter — when born, are challenging to keep alive. Unable to see, hear, or crawl, the helpless infants are completely reliant on their mothers for food and protection. As it turns out, they had little to worry about. The newborn, who celebrated his eight-week birthday on October 16, 2020, is thriving under Mei Xiang's care and showing signs of becoming a feisty toddler.
Visitors enjoying a quiet breakfast at the Singita Ebony Lodge, a luxury hotel in South Africa's Sabi Sand Game Reserve, were treated to a rare encounter with a leopard in early September 2020. The handful of guests watched in awe —and a little trepidation — as the majestic animal, who appeared to be searching for a tasty morsel, calmly explored the various areas of the restaurant. Fortunately for the humans, nothing on the "menu" seemed to catch the leopard's fancy, and it left as abruptly as it had arrived.