Christmas around the world

In churches and bus stations, on water skis and bicycles, people from the Middle East to middle America celebrate Christmas.

People light candles during a Christmas Eve mass in Alexander Nevski Cathedral in Sofia, Bulgaria. Bulgaria, unlike some other Orthodox countries, celebrates Christmas on Dec. 25.

Stringer / X80002

A child receives a Christmas present from the DAL association (Droit Au Logement - Right for Housing) in Paris, France on Tuesday. The association distributes Christmas gifts to the children of families facing extremely difficult situations.

Etienne Laurent / EPA

Pope Benedict XVI waves to the faithful as he delivers his Christmas Day message from the central balcony of St Peter's Basilica on Dec. 25 in Rome's Vatican City.

Franco Origlia / Getty Images Europe

Nuns gather at St. Peter's for the pope's Christmas Day message on Tuesday.

Franco Origlia / Getty Images Europe

A swimmer jumps in the cold water off Barcelona, Spain, as he takes part in the 103rd Christmas Cup swim on Dec. 25. About 400 people participated in the 200-meter race in the Barcelona's Old Harbor.

Josep Lago / AFP

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II receives flowers outside St. Mary's church after attending the Christmas service on the royal estate at Sandringham in Norfolk, England, on Tuesday.

Toby Melville / X90004

A Palestinian girl receives communion on Christmas Day from the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem at the Church of St. Catherine, which is connected to the Church of Nativity, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem.

Mohamad Torokman / X02127

A Pakistani Christian woman sells crosses during Christmas celebrations in Peshawar, Pakistan, on Dec. 25.

Arshad Arbab / EPA

U.S. soldiers of NATO's International Security Assistance Force attend a Christmas Mass at the NATO base in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Christmas Day.

S. Sabawoon / EPA

Christmas ornaments sit amongst the remains of homes that were destroyed by fire during Hurricane Sandy in the Breezy Point section of Queens, N.Y., on Dec. 25.

Keith Bedford / X01635

Congregants pray during a Christmas Mass at the Cathedral of St Vincent de Paul, in Tunis, Tunisia, on Tuesday.

Mohamed Messara / EPA

A child walks during Christmas prayers at the Saint Mary's Garrison Church in Jammu, India, on Tuesday. Although Christians comprise only two percent of the population, Christmas is a national holiday in India.

Channi Anand / AP

Pilgrims visit 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.

Atef Safadi / EPA

Street artists create an illustration of Jesus for Christmas Day in a busy avenue in Lima, Peru, on Dec. 24.

Paul Vallejos / EFE

Christmas Eve at the Fraser-Dillon house in Breezy Point, N.Y., is supposed to be crazy. It’s supposed to be loud, and there should be 20 to 30 family members and friends coming through for non-stop cooking and celebration. There should be a real Christmas tree, “the fullest from the lot,” decorated Victorian style. This year it’s just Tom and Kim, their son Mack, 13, daughter Alexa, 19, her boyfriend Brian Kolb, their two dogs Gia and Otis, a pizza delivery, and a fake tree. But they’re here, while most of their neighbors are not, following the devastation of their neighborhood during Superstorm Sandy.

David Friedman /

Georgia Army National Guard First Lieutenant Jonathan Kiel is greeted by his 1-year-old daughter, Molly, and his wife, Nan, after returning from duty in Afghanistan on Christmas Eve at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on Dec. 24. Kiel is due to return to Afghanistan in Jan. 2013.

Erik S. Lesser / EPA

A zookeeper wearing a Santa Claus suit feeds the fish in the aquarium of the zoo in Chiang Mai, Thailand, on Dec. 24.

Fredrik Von Erichsen / DPA

An Indonesian bomb squad officer checks for explosives shortly before the Christmas Eve mass at Hati Kudus Catholic Church in Banda Aceh, Sumatra, on Dec. 24. Indonesia, which has the world's largest Muslim population, has increased security for the upcoming Christmas and New Year holidays.

Hotli Simanjuntak / EPA

Christians light candles at St. Mary's Catholic Church during a midnight Christmas Mass in Gulf emirate of Dubai on Dec. 24.

Ali Haider / EPA

Iranian Christians pray during Christmas Mass at the Saint Joseph Chaldean-Assyrian Catholic church, in Tehran, on Dec. 24. Iran's constitution gives protected status to Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians, but many religious minorities sense growing pressures from the Islamic state.

Vahid Salemi / AP

Ralph Thompson stretches out on a bench at the Knoxville Greyhound bus station in Knoxville, Tenn., on Monday, Dec. 24. Thompson was traveling from Beckley, W.V., to Atlanta for the Christmas holiday.

J. Miles Cary