Christmas Around the World
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An illuminated Christmas tree is seen in front of the National Stadium to celebrate Christmas Eve in Beijing. Christmas is not a public holiday in China, but it is celebrated across the country as Western traditions have become increasingly popular.
Christmas lights illuminate La Grand-Place in Brussels. Children in Belgium have 2 Christmas visitors. On Dec. 6, St. Nicholas Day, Saint Nicholas (St. Niklaas, if you are Flemish) brings presents. Then, on Christmas Day, Santa Claus delivers additional gifts.
The Christmas holiday falls during Australia's summer it is popular to go camping during this time. Natives decorate their homes with trees and lights, but also display bunches of "Christmas Bush," a native Australian tree with small green leaves and cream-colored flowers that turn red in summer. In each state capital, there is a "Carols by Candlelight" service where famous performers sing holiday favorites.
Performers sing Christmas carols, locally known as "kolyadki," in the Belarussian village of Semezhevo, about 100 miles south-west of Minsk. Many Orthodox Belarusians mark the New Year according to the Julian calendar.
The Rideau Canal Waterway in Ottawa, Canada, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is lit up for the holidays. There are many Christmas traditions in Canada due to the various cultural backgrounds in the country. Some open gifts on Christmas Eve and others wait till Christmas Day. Other types of celebrations include a "Taffy Pull" (a party for singles to meet) and "Sinck Tuck" (dancing and gift exchanges).
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Fireworks explode near a traditional Rio de Janeiro Christmas tree during the official lighting ceremony at Rodrigo de Freitas Lake. In Brazil, Santa Claus is called Papai Noel. Favorite holiday foods include chicken, turkey, ham, rice, pork, and fresh and dried fruits.
Panamanian dancers celebrate the Christmas holiday season wearing traditional clothes called polleras in Panama City. Polleras originate from the Azuero Peninsula in central Panama.
An actor performs on the streets during the "Three Kings Day" festival in Mexico City. "Three Kings Day" is a Christian holiday in Mexico that celebrates the Three Wise Men who brought gifts to the baby Christ.
Christmas traditions in the UK are much like the US. Christmas trees, holly and mistletoe are used as decorations. One difference: instead of milk and cookies, the children in London often leave mince pies and brandy for Father Christmas.
The Vittorio Emanuele II Gallery, adorned with Christmas lights, is pictured in downtown Milan. One of the biggest ways to celebrate the holiday in Italy is by displaying the Nativity crib scene. Many families display the cribs in their homes and place a baby Jesus in it on the night of Dec. 24.
People dressed as Father Frost, the equivalent of Santa Claus, and Snow Maiden greet passers-by during a New Year's parade in Bishkek, Russia. In Russia, New Year's celebrations are very important (sometimes more than Christmas). Father Frost brings presents to children. The traditional greeting on New Year's is "S Novym Godom."
Bondi Beach, Australia
Australia's world famous Bondi Beach hosts the annual Sunburnt Christmas Festival on Christmas Day. About 4000 partygoers celebrate a summertime Christmas on the beach with DJs, bikini contests and an Aussie BBQ lunch.
Rovaniemi, Finland is proud to be the official home of Santa Claus. Visit the Santa Claus Village in Lapland anytime of the year to meet Father Christmas and cross the magical Arctic Circle. After you meet Santa, take a sleigh ride with traditional Sami reindeer and learn more about Lapland’s native people.
Christmas in Reykjavik is a magical time with its winter landscape and unique traditions. Visit the Christmas Village in Hafnarfjordur or Reykjavik's main Christmas Market in Ingolfstorg Square for unique holiday gifts and Yuletide music. And for children, there are not just one, but 13 Santas, or Yule Lads, bearing gifts.