Christmas Day around the World

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Pope Francis greets the faithful after delivering the Urbi et Orbi Christmas Day message from the central balcony of St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City

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Bulgaria's newly elected Orthodox church patriarch, Neophyte, leads the Christmas mass in the golden-domed Alexander Nevsky cathedral in central Sofia. Bulgaria, unlike some other fellow Orthodox countries, celebrates Christmas on 25 December

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Pilgrims pray inside the Grotto where Christians believe the Virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus Christ in the Church of the Nativity, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on Christmas Eve, 24 December 2013.

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A volunteer dressed as Santa Claus distributes presents on Christmas Day to children who survived typhoon Haiyan in Leyte province, the Philippines

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A Father Chrismas is followed by children in a dusty street in Ambohibary in Madagascar

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Indian Christians offering prayers at the Infant Jesus church during a Christmas mass in Bengaluru, India

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Members of the Serpentine Swimming Club take part in the annual Christmas Day swim in Hyde Park, London, UK

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Children surround Ded Moroz (Father Frost), who has arrived at Moscow Zoo in Russia

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Members of the "Berlin Seals" swim association take a bath in the Orankesee lake in Berlin during their traditional Christmas Swim. Temperatures in the German capital reached up to 48 degree's Fahrenheit.

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US troops from the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force celebrate Christmas in Kabul, Afghanistan

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Actors dressed as Joseph, left, and Mary perform during a live nativity scene recreation in Catholic Church of Saints Simon and Helena in the Belarus capital Minsk.

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The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby delivers his Christmas Day sermon at Cantebury Cathedral in England. Today marks the Archbishop's first Christmas since being enthroned in the position.

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People light candles during a Christmas mass in the golden-domed Alexander Nevsky cathedral in central Sofia. Bulgaria, unlike some other fellow Orthodox countries, celebrates Christmas on December 25.

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Pope Francis delivers his "Urbi et Orbi" (to the City and to the World) message from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. Pope Francis on Christmas day is wishing for a better world, with peace for the land of Jesus' birth, for Syria and Africa as well as for the dignity of migrants and refugees fleeing misery and conflict.

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Faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square attend Pope Francis' Christmas Day message from the central balcony of St Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, Vatican. The 'Urbi et Orbi' blessing (to the city and to the world) is recognized as a Christmas tradition by Catholics with the Pope Francis focusing this year on the peace in the world.

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A Swiss Guard attends Pope Francis' Christmas Day address from the central balcony of St Peter's Basilica on December 25, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican.

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A Romanian woman, holding a burning candle, attends the Christmas mass in the Orthodox church of Malaia village, 250 km north-west from Bucharest.

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Christian worshipers and nuns pray during a Christmas mass at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, 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.

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December 25: Santa Claus holds a beer as he walks with children holding their Christmas presents at Brighton Beach in Melbourne, Australia.

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A participant in fancy dress jumps into the water during the104th edition of the Christmas Cup in Barcelona's Port Vell. The traditional 200-meter Christmas swimming race gathered around 400 participants on Barcelona's old harbor.

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Soldiers with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) enjoy a special meal on Christmas Day at a military base in Kabul.

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Children pray during a special Christmas Day mass for children, in a monastery ground serving as a camp for the displaced, in Bangui, Central African Republic. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, more than 200,000 people remain displaced in the capital alone, and more than half of those are children.

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An Iraqi Orthodox Christian refugee attends a morning Christmas mass at the Saint Afram Syrian Orthodox Church in Amman, Jordan.

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Members of the non-governmental organizatation hold candles during a vigil to protest against child abuse and to save the girl child as part of the Christmas celebrations, in Bangalore, India.

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Filipino relatives visit graves of their loved ones on Christmas Day outside a Catholic church turned into a mass grave in the typhoon devastated village of San Joaquin, near the town of Palo, Philippines.

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Hundreds of Syrian and Iraqi refugees, along with Jordanian Christians, prayed for peace in St Afram's Syrian Orthodox church in the Jordanian capital, Amman.

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In Pakistan, Christians celebrate Mass at All Saints in Peshawar. Two suicide bombers blew themselves up outside the church in September, killing almost 100 people.

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In Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, Catholic priests celebrated a special Mass for children displaced by violence.

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In Istanbul. Patriarch Bartholomew I led a Christmas Mass at the Greek Orthodox patriarchal Cathedral of St George.

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As is tradition, the Queen and members of the Royal Family attended a Christmas service in Sandringham, in Norfolk.

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At the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, worshippers queued to visit the gold star which marks the sport where Jesus is believed to have been born.

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On the Potomac river in the US state of Maryland, a water-skier dressed as Santa Claus was joined by another in a reindeer outfit on Christmas Eve.

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A boy with a Santa Claus mask sits on a pedicab on Christmas Eve on December 24, 2013 in Tacloban, Leyte, Philippines. Haiyan has been described as one of the most powerful typhoons ever to hit land, leaving thousands dead and hundreds of thousands homeless. Countries all over the world have pledged relief aid to help support those affected by the typhoon. With Christianity being the predominant religion in Philippines, the people of Tacloban will try to find a way to celebrate Christmas despite the incredibly difficult circumstances.

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Indian Christian people light candles and pray at the illuminated Sacred Heartís Cathedral on Christmas Eve in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013. Though Hindus and Muslims comprise the majority of the population in India, Christmas is celebrated with much fanfare.

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A Christian devotee prays during a Christmas mass in Colombo early on December 25, 2013. Christians account for some 6 per cent of Sri Lanka's 21 million population.

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Christian worshipers attend a Christmas prayer in Surabaya. Indonesian Christians celebrated Christmas amid a warning on December 12 from Indonesian police that Islamic extremists may be planning to target worshippers during Christmas and New Years celebrations in the capital Jakarta and other parts of the country.

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Christian pilgrims pray at the Church of the Nativity, traditionally believed to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ, during Christmas celebrations in the West Bank biblical town of Bethlehem on December 24, 2013. Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas urged Christian pilgrims from around the world to visit the Holy Land to mark the visit of Pope Francis, set for 2014, in a Christmas message.

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Chinese catholics attend a Christmas Eve Mass service at the official Catholic church South Cathedral in Beijing, China, Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013. China and the Vatican have no diplomatic ties and the ruling Communist Party forced Chinese Catholics to sever their ties in the 1950s. China officially records about 6 million Catholics worshipping in 6,300 congregations across the country, although millions more are believed to worship outside the official church, with considerable crossover between the two in many areas.

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Clergymen attends the Christmas Midnight Mass led by Foud Twal, the Latin Patriarch of the Holy Land, in Saint Catherine's Church at the Church of the Nativity, where Christians believe the Virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus Christ, on December 25, 2013 in Bethlehem, West Bank. In the West Bank town of Bethlehem, Jerusalem's Latin patriarch Fuad Twal celebrated a midnight mass attended by Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas. Thousands of pilgrims and tourists made their way past Israel's controversial separation wall to reach the Palestinian hilltop town, where snow remains on the ground from a rare winter blizzard this month.

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A young boy holds a Christingle, meaning 'Christ Light', during a festive church service on Christmas Eve in Hong Kong on December 24, 2013. The services derive from a Moravian custom of distributing lit candles to children on Christmas Eve in order to celebrate Christ, the light of the world. A Christingle is made up of an orange, representing the world, with a red ribbon around it representing the blood of Jesus. Fruits and sweets are skewered onto cocktail sticks which are pushed into the orange representing the fruits of the earth and the four seasons. A lit candle is finally pushed into the centre of the orange representing Christ, the light of the world.

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Street vendors sell balloons at a street in Hanoi, Vietnam, 24 December 2013. Christmas is not an official holiday in Vietnam, however some of its customs have become more popular in recent years. 

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People play a nativity scene during the unveiling ceremony of the crib in St Peter's Square at the Vatican, on December 24, 2013. Pope Francis visited his predecessor Benedict XVI yesterday for an informal Christmas greeting, as the Argentine pontiff prepares to celebrate his first Christmas as leader of the world's Roman Catholics.

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A Christian pilgrim touches a column inside the Church of the Nativity, traditionally believed by Christians to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on Christmas Eve, Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013.

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Victims of super Typhoon Haiyan decorate their improvised Christmas tree with empty cans and bottles at the ravaged town of Anibong, Tacloban city, central Philippines December 24, 2013, a month after Typhoon Haiyan battered central Philippines. Super typhoon Haiyan reduced almost everything in its path to rubble when it swept ashore in the central Philippines on November 8, killing at least 6,069 people, leaving 1,779 missing and 4 million either homeless or with damaged homes.

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Nigerian pilgrims wait inside the Church of the Nativity, the site revered as the birthplace of Jesus, during Christmas celebrations in the West Bank town of Bethlehem.

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The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal carries a statuette of baby Jesus during Christmas midnight mass at the Church of St. Catherine, which is connected to the Church of the Nativity, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem.

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December 24: Flowers are left at a flooded mass grave, where victims of Super Typhoon Haiyan are buried, Tacloban, Leyte, Philippines. Haiyan has been described as one of the most powerful typhoons ever to hit land, leaving thousands dead and hundreds of thousands homeless. With Christianity being the predominant religion in Philippines, the people of Tacloban will try to find a way to celebrate Christmas despite the incredibly difficult circumstances.

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A priest holds a cross as he awaits the arrival of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal, outside the Church of Nativity, the site revered as the birthplace of Jesus, during Christmas celebrations in the West Bank town of Bethlehem December 24, 2013.

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Darren Fabella, 6, lights candles for his departed friend, a victim of the onslaught of super typhoon Haiyan a month ago, who was buried in a vacant lot on Christmas Eve in front of a Catholic church in San Joaquin town in Palo, Leyte province central Philippines December 24, 2013. Super typhoon Haiyan reduced almost everything in its path to rubble when it swept ashore in the central Philippines on November 8, killing at least 6,069 people, leaving 1,779 missing and 4 million either homeless or with damaged homes.

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A woman places a candle inside a makeshift chapel in Independence Square where pro-European integration supporters are holding a rally in Kiev December 24, 2013. Ukrainian opposition leaders urged supporters at a rally on Sunday to stay on Kiev's main square through New Year and Christmas, as street protests appeared to be losing momentum.

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A participant releases a sky lantern during the "Kapulica & Lanterns" event in Zagreb, Croatia, Dec. 23, 2013. The event, organized by contemporary artist Kresimir Tadija Kapulica as part of the ArtOmat Fair ahead of Christmas, involves people releasing about 1,000 lanterns to symbolize sending wishes to the universe.

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Archbishop of Vilnius Gintaras Grusas (L) blesses a crib during a Christmas mass at the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Vilnius on December 24, 2013.

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Winter swimmers wearing Santa Claus hats swim in a partially frozen lake as others (back) line up to get into the icy water to celebrate Christmas at a park in Shenyang, Liaoning province December 24, 2013.  

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More than 1,000 volunteers clad in Santa Claus costumes throw their hats in the air as they gather to deliver gifts for the poor in downtown Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013.

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An Indian child dressed as Santa Claus poses for a photograph while helping others light candles during Christmas eve celebrations at the illuminated St Paul's church in Amritsar on December 24,2013. Despite Christians forming a little over two percent of the billion plus population in India, with Hindus comprising the majority, Christmas is celebrated with fanfare and zeal throughout the country .

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Christian worshippers visit the Church of Nativity, traditionally believed by Christians to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on Christmas Eve, Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013.

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