Millions of people all over the world are well into their preparations for the festive season.
GVs Vatican and surrounding street with Father Christmas in carriage. Spanish Steps. Trevi fountain. Shoppers in Piazza Navona. (7 SHOTS)
GV Christmas trees for sale in street. (5 SHOTS)
SVs Father Christmas dolls for sale. Christmas decorations. (3 SHOTS)
GV Man on bicycle with Christmas tree.
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Background: Millions of people all over the world are well into their preparations for the festive season. Shoppers in Rome see Father Christmas driving round in a horse and carriage - a far cry from the traditional sleigh led by reindeers. Although the economic recession has hit most of the world, the people of Rome look set to have a record spending spree this year. For people in mainly Moslem countries the Christmas preparations are low-key. In Egypt, only seven per cent of the population is Christian and there's no seasonal traditional snow. But forests of Christmas trees spring up on the Cairo pavements overnight in front of flower shops, and each of them claims to sell more than a hundred trees during the festive season. The Egyptians have cause for celebrations in some respects -- they have two Christmas days. The Western expatriate Christians celebrate on December 25, but the Coptic religion hold their festivities on January 7. Despite the increasing commercialism of the event, Christmas remains a magical time for most children-and for most adults.