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In times of turmoil, Christmas celebrations focus on empathy

From the Pope in the Vatican to Queen Elizabeth in London, Christmas celebrations across the globe sounded themes of understanding and compassion. Nick Schifrin takes a look at holiday rituals around the world, from the solemn to the silly.

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  • Nick Schifrin:

    And Christmas Day 2018 brought an annual renewal of religious rites, and in times of turmoil, empathy was on the minds of many, beginning in the Vatican.

    In St. Peter's Square, in front of thousands of the faithful, Pope Francis delivered a message of hope and understanding.

  • Pope Francis:

    My wish for a happy Christmas is a wish for fraternity, fraternity among individuals of every nation and culture., fraternity among people with different ideas, yet capable of respecting and listening to one another, fraternity among persons of different religions.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    That message echoed in Mosul, Iraq, where Christians were able to observe openly, including with a traditional bonfire, where the Islamic State was defeated a year ago.

    They also celebrated in Damascus. Syrian Christians lucky enough to live comfortably in the capital said the ongoing war didn't disrupt this year's celebrations.

  • Naily Saieed:

    For years, we couldn't decorate because of the fighting nearby. We had almost no visitors because people hesitated to come to this part of the city. But now it is different.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Elsewhere, festivities came in all kinds of weather. In Berlin, Santa-hat-clad celebrants took a traditional dip in icy waters. In Sydney, mermen rolled on the sand and beach-goers posed with a Christmas tree.

  • Donald Trump:

    I know it's a great sacrifice for you to be away from your families.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    At the White House, President Trump sent Christmas greetings via video conference to U.S. troops around the world.

    Last night, at the National Cathedral, he and the first lady attended mass. They were scheduled to be in Florida, but stayed in Washington for the second government shutdown just this year, while, in Britain, the queen celebrated a tradition that's been unbroken for 66 years, her annual Christmas message, and her own appeal for empathy.

  • Queen Elizabeth II:

    Even with the most deeply-held differences, treating the other person with respect and as a fellow human being is always a good first step towards greater understanding.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Queen Elizabeth also reflected on her 92 years, and said: "Some cultures believe a long life brings wisdom. I would like to think so."

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Still to come on the "NewsHour": the financial, political and legal uncertainty after reports the president is mulling firing the chairman of the Federal Reserve; protests in Iraq over the lack of services in a region rich with resources; actor Kevin Spacey is charged with indecent assault and pleads his case online; plus much more.

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