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Nelson Mandela donned a Santa hat Saturday as he and his wife held a Christmas party for about 5,000 underprivileged children.

The children arrived at Mandela's farm in this small village in the impoverished Eastern Cape province for candy, drinks and toys donated by South African businesses.

Mandela's wife, Graca Machel, will serve every child a meal, Mandela's spokeswoman, Zelda la Grange, said.

"For some of the children it is the only day during the year when they eat sweets or get presents, and some travel for up to two days by foot to attend this party," she said.

Mandela has held a Christmas Day party for children since his release from prison in 1990.

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