SO SANTA CLAUS IS REAL

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A helium balloon travelled more than 2,500km by air from a tiny Austrian town to a mountainous village in Russia’s North Caucasus, prompting one of this year’s most amazing Christmas stories.

Amin, a farmer from the village of Krasny Kurgan in Russia’s southern Karachay-Cherkess Republic, told the Mash Telegram channel about how he became a real-life Santa.

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Straight out of a fairy tale, the story began one day in mid-December when Amin spotted a white helium balloon falling from the sky and right into his backyard. The farmer took interest in the unusual ‘intruder’ and discovered that it had a handwritten letter attached to it.

‘I understood that it was written by a child,’ Amin recalled. But since the letter was in a foreign language, this was about all the farmer could make of the scrawl.

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Intrigued, Amin enlisted the help of his friends to decipher the message. Eventually, he found out that the letter was a message to Santa Claus, penned in German. It was written by Sophia, a nine-year-old from the Austrian city of Oberndorf bei Salzburg, some 17km (11 miles) north of Salzburg.

In the letter, the girl told Santa she was dreaming of getting a fairy tale princess’ dress, a tent-shaped like a medieval castle, and a hover board for Christmas, along with ’lots of love for the whole world’ so people ’don’t argue’ as much anymore.

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As soon as he learned of the letter’s contents, Amin could not sit idly and decided to take Santa’s duties upon himself, apparently thinking it was fate’s hand that had thrown the balloon his way. The gifts were quite pricey for the farmer and he asked his friends for help, with most of them eager to participate in making the Christmas miracle happen.

‘All my friends, from everywhere, including Moscow, quickly collected the money,’ he said, adding that it was a race against the clock as ’we had to make sure that the presents got there [to Oberndorf bei Salzburg] by December 25, the day when Catholics around the world celebrate Christmas.

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Not all fairy tales have a happy ending, but this one certainly did. An actor posing as Santa handed the gifts over to the happy girl in her hometown.

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Sophia and her family were stunned when they were contacted by the people who helped Amin to find the girl and make her dreams come true. The ecstatic nine-year-old told local media that she now wants to learn Russian. Sophia also revealed that she was definitely going to send another balloon with Christmas wishes next year to see where it ends up.

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Folk costumes and traditions of Karachay-Cherkessia

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