The following are among events triggered in some way by the approach of the holidays:

In Wellington, New Zealand, a shopping mall Santa Claus named Alan Hodge was sacked for smoking on duty, wearing an improper uniform and handing out sweets to teen-agers instead of just toddlers. Shopkeepers said his generosity encouraged teen-age loitering.

His patrons included an 89-year-old woman who sat on his knee and asked for a microwave oven ...

In San Antonio, a court dispute broke out over legal rights to Pancho Claus, Santa's Hispanic cousin from the South Pole. Pancho, a bilingual character with a black beard and broad sombrero, first made his appearance in a coloring book several years ago and has become a seasonal favorite of South Texas children. He had been scheduled to lead a Christmas parade over the weekend until lawyers intervened. No parade ...

In San Francisco an entrepreneur who lost $30,000 in an effort to market an Oliver North doll after the Iran-contra hearings says he plans to convert it into a Mikhail Gorbachev doll in time for Christmas. John Lee Hudson says he hopes to capitalize on the Soviet leader's favorable public image since last week's summit meetings. Hudson says his North dolls are sitting in a South Korean factory waiting to have their heads removed and replaced with a likeness of Gorbachev, complete with scalp birthmark. They will sell for $19.95 ...

And in Dortmund, West Germany, a Christmas shopper suspected of robbing babies was arrested carrying a plastic bag containing 757 pacifiers and teething rings and two feeding bottles containing red wine. Police said a witness saw the man take a pacifier from the mouth of a year-old baby lying in its carriage. The thief fled but ran into the arms of a policeman.