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In the Netherlands, the tradition goes that Sinterklaas lives in Madrid, wears a red clerical robe and a bishop’s mitre, and has servants called ‘Zwarte Pieten’ (Black Peters). from www.shutterstock.com

Schnapps, whipping and sacks: how Christmas traditions evolved around the world

The celebration of Christmas has distinct variations around the world, with many of these local traditions arising from particular historical circumstances.
Here goes nothing. Reuters/Gustau Nacarino

Catalan election: a leap into the unknown

Catalonia's pro-independence parties now have the chance to assemble a parliamentary majority, but they'll have to overcome their own differences first.
The success of Nicola Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party has profoundly disrupted the tedious pendulum movement between Left and Right. EPA/Robert Perry

European movements could mark the end of ‘representative’ politics

With a steady hollowing out of membership, the cosying up to vested interests with pockets deep enough to maintain party, today's political parties barely “represent”.
Wanted: a little less Marx and a few more sparks. Feeling My Age

Could Spain’s Podemos effect spread to the UK?

The more radical left-wing fringes of British politics can seem a strange and alien world. Meetings in dingy rooms where comrades cite Lenin and Trotsky during long excurses on the “objective conditions…
Guess which way he’s voting. EPA/Toni Albir

Where next for Catalonia after its unofficial referendum?

Catalans have voted for independence in a referendum that holds no official sway but has enormous significance. Now Catalonia needs to decide where to turn next. The referendum, held on November 9, was…
The sense of a distinct identity is what drives Catalans to continue pushing for independence despite the obstacles. Aleksandra Hadzelek

Democracy in action as Australia’s Catalans vote for independence

On the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, another milestone in European history took place: the Catalan vote on independence. Downgraded from an official referendum – which would be illegal…

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