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Bad Santa Robs Bank By Brandishing Wrapped Gift

Michael McLaughlin   |   December 24, 2013    3:14 PM ET

A bank robber disguised as St. Nick held up a Florida bank by threatening to harm the teller with a gift-wrapped package, WPTV reported.

The thief, wearing a Santa hat, beard, white gloves and sunglasses, fled with an unspecified amount of money from a SunTrust Bank in Port Orange on Monday, WJXT reported.

The package in red wrapping paper was placed on the counter and the bad Santa passed a note implying that it contained something dangerous, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

The evil Kris Kringle walked out with cash and left the package in the bank.

Police evacuated the branch and called in the Volusia County Sheriff's Office bomb squad, according to the Daytona Beach News Journal. Although they wouldn't reveal what was inside the box, officials said it was harmless, the Sentinel said.

WATCH: Christmas Folklore Takes The Season To A Whole New Level

Antonia Blumberg   |   December 23, 2013    2:32 PM ET

This might sound utterly blasphemous, but did you know that in some traditions Santa Claus is akin to a devil figure?

He rides a chariot pulled by horned creatures, rules a fantastical underworld and turned a holiday of love and charity into one of greed and materialism.. At least that's what one folklore expert describes in a conversation about bizarre Christmas traditions on HuffPost Live.

Even if we'll never know how these stories and traditions really came about, their popularity persists in communities around the globe. More in the video above.

RAMIT PLUSHNICK-MASTI   |   December 23, 2013    9:47 AM ET

HOUSTON (AP) — He usually has black hair and a black beard, sometimes just a mustache. Like Santa, he wears a hat — though often it's a sombrero. He dons a serape or a poncho and, in one case, a red and black zoot suit. And he makes his grand entrance on lowriders or Harleys or led by a pack of burros instead of eight reindeer.

Meet Pancho Claus, the Tex-Mex Santa.

  |   December 20, 2013    3:26 PM ET

Don’t be fooled by the festive cheer in all the Christmas songs you grew up loving. If you heard them sung in April, you’d realize just how dumb some of those lines can be.

Dumb As A Blog has attempted to isolate some of the dumbest lyrics from your holiday favorites.

Read carefully: It may change the way you listen to these songs for years to come…

  |   December 18, 2013    5:00 PM ET

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut man named Noel who climbed a tree decorated with Christmas lights has been arrested.

The electricity for the lights was cut as police and firefighters responded around noon Wednesday after Noel Delgado climbed the tree on the New Haven Green, a 16-acre park in downtown New Haven near Yale University.

David Moye   |   December 16, 2013    3:25 PM ET

Practically everyone knows classic holiday songs like "Jingle Bells," "Silent Night" and "Rudolph," but beyond those venerable ditties are a whole bunch of less-heralded carols that, in some cases, are unbelievably strange.

Ripley's Believe It Or Not! plans to sing the praises of the weirdest Christmas carols ever created with a special holiday "oddcast" airing on Ripley Radio starting Dec. 23.

But it's not for everyone, warns show host Tim O'Brien.

"If you're a traditionalist, you're not going to enjoy Ozzy Osbourne singing 'Silent Night.'"

O'Brien and crew have found 16 or so weird carols, but may only play excerpts of some because, "they're just too weird to be heard all the way through."

Some of the artists whose carols will be played include Weird Al Yankovic, the South Park gang, and a teenage Jon Bon Jovi, who can be heard on the immortal Christmas classic, "R2D2, We Wish You A Merry Christmas."

O'Brien hopes the "oddcast" becomes a Christmas tradition in its own right, but doubts these songs will be sung by caroling parties of the future.

"Well, it depends on what neighborhood you live in, I guess," he said.

David Moye   |   December 14, 2013    8:34 AM ET

When it comes to Christmas, Brandon Smith might be accused of not being able to see the forest for the trees.

But there's a good reason: He has 86 Christmas trees -- all inside his Greenwood, Ind., home.

Smith's collection has branched out into red trees, blue trees, green trees, themed trees and more than 52,000 lights. As a result, his house is about 85 degrees, according to WLS-TV.

Smith inherited his holiday spirit from his parents, who also used to deck the halls and trim the trees, as a kid.

“My parents always put up a pretty good display and I just have grown and expanded on it over the years,” he told Good Morning America, adding that many of the trees come from donations.

“It’s not uncommon for us to come home in the middle of July and find a Christmas tree on the front porch,” Smith explained. “We’ve had a lot of donations from elderly people that don’t want to put up decorations anymore, and we’re happy to take them.”

It's not easy though. There are so many trees that Smith has been forced to cram some in his bedroom. In addition, getting his holiday display ready is an arduous job that takes a month of hard work, according to KEYT-TV.

Smith doesn't just keep the trees to himself.

Every December evening, he opens his home to visitors to view his Christmas tree collection. Some years, he's seen more than 1,000 people trudge through.

"The looks on people's faces and the reactions is the best part," Smith told TheIndyChannel.com. "We've had a few people who said they're Grinches, but when they leave, they're grinning from ear to ear."

"We love Christmas," Smith said. "There’s no denying that."

David Moye   |   December 7, 2013   11:17 AM ET

Holiday shopping presents certain challenges when you have a weird person in your life.

Try as you might, it's hard to find something suitable for that special strange person, something that will fit their suitably bizarre world view.

At HuffPost Weird News, we are amply qualified to help thanks to our extensive experience dealing with weirdos, kooks, geeks, and crazies (and that's just at staff meetings).

Got a person obsessed with Sasquatch? We've got you covered. Same with zombie aficionados and even lovers of crime scenes and terrariums.

The one problem, of course, is that the recipient of any of these wonderfully weird gift ideas is so likely to be thrilled you got them what they want that they may want to get closer to you.

Trust us, that could be a problem. If you're willing to take that risk, check out the suggestions below.

The Associated Press   |   November 26, 2012    5:41 PM ET

PITTSBURGH -- Prices of items in the Christmas carol "The Twelve Days of Christmas," according to PNC Wealth Management:

_ Partridge, $15; last year: same

Santa With 'Missile Tow' Delivers UN Message: 'Peace On Earth -- Or Else'

Michael McLaughlin   |   November 13, 2012    1:30 PM ET

NEW YORK -- Doesn't it seem like the holiday protest season starts earlier and earlier every year?

A protesting Santa on an adult-sized tricycle pedaled up First Avenue Tuesday, dragging an 8-foot missile to the United Nations. His message to world leaders: "Peace on Earth -- Or Else."

Nobody ran for cover. The comically fake bomb was a dud. And this St. Nick was the legendary media prankster Joey Skaggs, accompanied by six performance artists serving as elves.

Given that New York suffered the worst hurricane in its history just two weeks ago, perhaps it's little surprise that this Santa and his giant toy explosive were overlooked.

Skaggs didn't care. He just wanted to kick off the holiday season with a not-so-gentile reminder about "the absurdity of nuclear Holocaust and the direction we're going with North Korea, Iran and Israel.

"Everyone wants a missile," Skaggs told The Huffington Post.

"If you don't do it now, when do you do it?," he said, "after the Holocaust?"

(Story continues below)

Calling the event "Santa's Missile Tow," Scaggs and his toy-making helpers sang a rendition of Jingle Bells with lyrics like:

Jingle bells, we're going to Hell
Burning all the way
Oh what fun,
it is to die,
In a fiery nuclear way
Hey!

Compared to Skaggs' body of work as a prankster bent on exposing the media as gullible, this protest was rather sincere. He's placed ads in the Village Voice for a bogus dog brothel, attracted New York Times coverage for a non-existent movement to rename the Gypsy moth on the grounds it offended the Romany or Gypsy people. He also appeared on Good Morning America as a Marine promoting the Fat Squad -- a phony business that claimed to rent out muscle-bound guards to stop overeaters from raiding their refrigerators.

A smattering of UN employees, tourists and adults pushing strollers stopped to take photos of Santa and the chipper elves outside the United Nations' gates. But when a security guard told Skaggs his tricycle was blocking the rainswept driveway, the veteran agitator quickly pedaled to make way for traffic. On the phone before the demonstration, he told HuffPost he didn't want to get arrested.

"The message is great. Nuclear annihilation is on the back burner. Unfortunately, there aren't enough people here to get it" said Deborah Thomas, the publisher of Extra!, a magazine put out by Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting. She said she's known Skaggs for years through the downtown art scene. "I think people are distracted by other things," like the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Skaggs' reputation as a performance artist able to outflank the mainstream media enabled him to fill the ranks of his elves.

"It's an honor, even in the rain," said Sarah Farrel, 28, who met Skaggs through Rev. Jen, another longtime performance artist in New York. She was moved by the message too. "It's an important opportunity to highlight the hypocrisy of demanding disarmament of other nations, but not our own."

After about 20 minutes outside the United Nations, the anti-nuclear protestors began a slow procession west on 42nd Street towards Time Square.

Some elves handed out miniature green toy soliders to passersby. Skaggs pedaled his three-wheeler along the sidewalk and the group occasionally burst into the altered version of Jingle Bells. They stopped to dance with a man collecting donations for the Salvation Army while shimmying exuberantly to Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You" playing from his radio.

It didn't quite hark back to the anti-nuclear movement in 1982 when one million demonstrators amassed for a protest in New York City, but Skaggs was pleased with the "Missile Tow."

"It's a different era," Skaggs said about the turnout. "But the reaction is great. You can see it, people are taking pictures."

BERNAT ARMANGUE   |   December 28, 2011   12:03 PM ET

By: BERNAT ARMANGUE, Associated Press

BETHLEHEM, West Bank (AP) -- The annual cleaning of one of Christianity's holiest churches deteriorated into a brawl between rival clergy Wednesday, as dozens of monks feuding over sacred space at the Church of the Nativity battled each other with brooms until police intervened.

The ancient church, built over the traditional site of Jesus' birth in Bethlehem, is shared by three Christian denominations — Roman Catholics, Armenians and Greek Orthodox. Wednesday's fight erupted between Greek and Armenian clergy, with both sides accusing each other of encroaching on parts of the church to which they lay claim.

The monks were tidying up the church ahead of Orthodox Christmas celebrations in early January, following celebrations by Western Christians on Dec. 25. The fight erupted between monks along the border of their respective areas. Some shouted and hurled brooms.

Palestinian security forces rushed in to break up the melee, and no serious injuries were reported. A Palestinian police spokesman would not immediately comment.

A fragile status quo governs relations among the denominations at the ancient church, and to repair or clean a part of the structure is to own it, according to accepted practice. That means that letting other sects clean part of the church could allow one to gain ground at another's expense. Similar fights have taken place during the same late-December cleaning effort in the past.

Tensions between rival clergy at the church have been a fact of life there for centuries and have often been caught up in international politics.

In the 1800s, friction between the denominations at the church — each backed by foreign powers — became so fraught that Russian Czar Nicholas I deployed troops along the Danube to threaten a Turkish sultan who had been favoring the Catholics over the Orthodox.

Those disagreements threaten the integrity of the church itself, which was originally built 1,500 years ago and parts of which have fallen into disrepair. Although the roof has needed urgent work for decades, and leaking rainwater has ruined much of the priceless artwork inside, a renovation has been delayed all these years by disagreements among the denominations over who would pay.

Only recently, the Palestinian Authority brokered an agreement to move ahead with replacing the roof, and officials hope work will begin in 2012.

  |   December 27, 2011    2:14 PM ET

FERGUS FALLS, Minn. — A goat that apparently didn't want to be part of a Minnesota Nativity scene has headed for greener pastures.

The 3-year-old Angora goat was supposed to have a supporting role at Bethlehem Church in Fergus Falls. Instead it escaped its leash Saturday afternoon, and remained on the lam Monday.

Buck Wolf   |   December 24, 2011    9:38 AM ET

Christmas is supposed to be a time of giving, and we at HuffPost Weird News are in the giving spirit right now.

Mostly, we're giving staff writer David Moye the business for his humiliating fall while singing and playing ukulele in front of his son Owen's kindergarten class.

We hope you like this amusingly disastrous performance -- La Mesa Patch did.

Luckily, his wife, Jennifer, captured it so we can share it with you (you can hear her sighing at the end).

Interestingly enough, this is the second chair Moye has broken in a month -- he broke one trying to get out of it at Thanksgiving. That's why we require him to stand up when he's working.

As for Owen, he's gotten a one-of-a-kind gift from the incident. His classmates now tease him that he's "the son of the chairbreaker."

Associated Press   |   December 24, 2011    2:48 AM ET

CINCINNATI -- A 1941 fruitcake has sold for $525 to an Arizona man in an Ohio company's online auction, and the money will go to the homeless in southwest Ohio.

Elite Estate Group sold the cake in an auction on its website. Company owner Larry Chaney says the man, who wanted to remain anonymous, probably bought the cake as an investment. Chaney says he doubts anyone would eat a 70-year-old fruitcake even though it was vacuum packed and contained rum that probably helped preserve it.

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