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27 December 2013

The Best Pictures of Christmas Across the World

Polar-Bear Mermaids Included

How can the same date on the calendar, the same holiday, prompt such varying traditions as jumping into cold water with a Santa suit and arranging vegetables in the shape of the mountain, as well as inspiring solemn moments of prayer?

Well, that's Christmas, truly a world holiday, which adapts with the diversity of locations it is celebrated in.

Here are our favorite shots from the day.

A competitor in Christmas dress jumps into the sea during the 104th Barcelona Traditional Christmas Swimming Cup at the Old Harbour of Barcelona on Dec. 25 in Spain. The Copa Nadal is organized by the Barcelona Swimming Club and involves competitors swimming across some 200 metres of water in the harbor. Launched in 1908, the event has only been suspended three times when the Spanish Civil War interrupted proceedings between 1936 and 1938.

A man dressed as Santa Claus rides his bike after the 104th Barcelona Traditional Christmas Swimming Cup at the Old Harbour of Barcelona.

Santa Claus holds a beer as he walks with children holding their Christmas presents on Christmas Day at Brighton Beach in Melbourne, Australia.

A Bondi lifeguard performs a handstand in front of a giant Christmas tree at Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia.

Swiss Guards arrive in St. Peter's Square to attend Pope Francis's Christmas Day message from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

Pope Francis kisses the crib as he attends Christmas night mass at the St. Peter's Basilica.

Indonesian Javanese Christians children perform a traditional dance during the rainwater ritual known as "Ngunduh Hujan." The ritual is performed to express gratitude for the blessing of rainwater that has been given by nature to the community of slope mount merapi for decades. Christmas is a national holiday in Indonesia despite the fact that only 8 percent of the population identifies as Christian.

Indonesian Javanese Christians jostle for the "Gunungan," vegetables in the shape of a mountain, during the rainwater ritual.

A Christian worshipper prays during the Christmas mass at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem on the West Bank. Every Christmas pilgrims travel to the church where a gold star embedded in the floor marks the spot where Jesus was believed to have been born.

Worshippers light candles at the Church of the Nativity, traditionally believed to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ.

A young boy dresses as Santa Claus on Christmas Eve in Battambang, Cambodia.

An Indonesian man wearing a Santa Claus costume hands a gift to a dancer during Christmas celebrations at Hati Kudus Yesus Church in Palasari Village, Jembrana, Bali, Indonesia.

Indonesian Catholics wearing Balinese traditional outfits light candles while attending a Christmas mass at Hati Kudus Yesus Church in Palasari Village, Jembrana, Bali, Indonesia.

A woman wearing mask walks past a poster reading "Merry Christmas" in Shanghai, China.

A man navigates the center street in Yalding, England, that was submerged after flooding. Christmas plans were badly affected for thousands of people after storms across the U.K. cut power, caused flooding, and disrupted travel.

People enjoy Waikiki beach on Christmas in Honolulu.



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