News, Culture & Society

From sunbathing in Sydney to baptisms in the Congo… how December 25 is being celebrated worldwide 

Christmas Day celebrations are well underway across the world, as roughly 2.3 billion Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ on December 25. 

In Sydney, where December is one of the hottest months of the year, Christmas revellers traditionally head down to the beach, cook barbecues and spend most of the day outdoors. 

In Britain, those opting for a Christmas morning swim had to endure freezing temperatures as they braved icy waters in up and down the country. 

There was a double cause for celebration in Iraq as the government announced it would make December 25 a nationwide holiday for everyone, rather than just for the country’s 300,000 Christians, for the first time.

Indian Christians after attending the Christmas prayers at the Infant Jesus church in Bangalore, India, 25 December 2018

People in fancy dress to take part in the annual White Christmas Dip at Boscombe Pier, Bournemouth to raise money for Macmillan Caring Locally

People in fancy dress to take part in the annual White Christmas Dip at Boscombe Pier, Bournemouth to raise money for Macmillan Caring Locally

A man from Armenia dressed as Santa Claus dances with Lebanese and Armenian children upon his arrival at Rafik Hariri international airport in Beirut, Lebanon

A man from Armenia dressed as Santa Claus dances with Lebanese and Armenian children upon his arrival at Rafik Hariri international airport in Beirut, Lebanon

The man dressed as Santa Claus waves upon his arrival at Rafik Hariri international airport in Beirut, to celebrate the Armenian Christmas on the January 6 2019

The man dressed as Santa Claus waves upon his arrival at Rafik Hariri international airport in Beirut, to celebrate the Armenian Christmas on the January 6 2019

People attend a carnival held in front of al-Sayydah Church in the mostly Christian-populated al-Qassaa neighborhood, Damascus, Syria

People attend a carnival held in front of al-Sayydah Church in the mostly Christian-populated al-Qassaa neighborhood, Damascus, Syria

A young man wearing a Santa hat sleeps after Christmas celebrations on Bondi Beach on December 25, 2018 in Sydney, Australia

A young man wearing a Santa hat sleeps after Christmas celebrations on Bondi Beach on December 25, 2018 in Sydney, Australia

A freediver places an ornamental Christas tree on the sea-floor off the coast of the northern Lebanese port city of Tripoli

A freediver places an ornamental Christas tree on the sea-floor off the coast of the northern Lebanese port city of Tripoli

Bangladeshi children surround a Santa Claus as people celebrate Christmas Day in the capital Dhaka, Bangladesh, 25 December 2018

Bangladeshi children surround a Santa Claus as people celebrate Christmas Day in the capital Dhaka, Bangladesh, 25 December 2018

Divers wearing Santa Claus and Red-Nosed Reindeer costumes swim in a large fish tank during an underwater performance at Sunshine Aquarium in Tokyo, Japan

Divers wearing Santa Claus and Red-Nosed Reindeer costumes swim in a large fish tank during an underwater performance at Sunshine Aquarium in Tokyo, Japan

A man dressed as Santa Claus holds the city's flag while taking part in the traditional Christmas season swim in Nice, France

A man dressed as Santa Claus holds the city’s flag while taking part in the traditional Christmas season swim in Nice, France

An aerial view of the main square in the capital of Albania, Tirana, lit with Christmas decorations and surrounded by an open Christmas market

An aerial view of the main square in the capital of Albania, Tirana, lit with Christmas decorations and surrounded by an open Christmas market

An Iraqi youth dressed as Father Christmas hands over gifts to children at the Church of Mar Jacob al-Muqataa in the predominantly Iraqi Christian town of Qaraqosh, in Niniveh province some 30 kilometres from Mosul

An Iraqi youth dressed as Father Christmas hands over gifts to children at the Church of Mar Jacob al-Muqataa in the predominantly Iraqi Christian town of Qaraqosh, in Niniveh province some 30 kilometres from Mosul

A man from Armenia dressed as Santa Claus poses for a picture with Lebanese and Armenian children upon his arrival at Rafik Hariri international airport in Beirut, Lebanon, 25 December 2018

A man from Armenia dressed as Santa Claus poses for a picture with Lebanese and Armenian children upon his arrival at Rafik Hariri international airport in Beirut, Lebanon, 25 December 2018

Members of the Berliner Seehunde (Berlin seals) swimming club take their traditional Christmas bath at the Orankesee lake on December 25, 2018 in Berlin

Members of the Berliner Seehunde (Berlin seals) swimming club take their traditional Christmas bath at the Orankesee lake on December 25, 2018 in Berlin

A girl poses for a picture with a man wearing a Santa Claus costume at a street in Tehran, Iran. Many Muslim families have also adopted some Christmas customs and buy presents and even Christmas trees for the enjoyment of their children

A girl poses for a picture with a man wearing a Santa Claus costume at a street in Tehran, Iran. Many Muslim families have also adopted some Christmas customs and buy presents and even Christmas trees for the enjoyment of their children

A person dressed as Santa Claus offers sweets to children during Christmas celebrations at the Holy Family Catholic Church in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian Kashmir, 25 December 2018

A person dressed as Santa Claus offers sweets to children during Christmas celebrations at the Holy Family Catholic Church in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian Kashmir, 25 December 2018

Young acolytes stand together as they attend Christmas morning mass at the Syriac Orthodox Church of the Virgin Mary in Qamishli in northeastern Syria on December 25, 2018

Young acolytes stand together as they attend Christmas morning mass at the Syriac Orthodox Church of the Virgin Mary in Qamishli in northeastern Syria on December 25, 2018

An Indian child dressed as Santa Claus is held up by his father at a service to mark Christmas Day at a church in Amritsar on December 25, 2018

An Indian child dressed as Santa Claus is held up by his father at a service to mark Christmas Day at a church in Amritsar on December 25, 2018

A man wears a Santa Claus costume in a street in Tehran, Iran, 21 December 2018. Approximately 150 thousand Christians are living in Iran, most of them are Armenians, who celebrate Christmas in churches and in the privacy of their homes. Many Muslim families have also adopted some Christmas customs and buy presents and even Christmas trees for the enjoyment of their children

A man wears a Santa Claus costume in a street in Tehran, Iran, 21 December 2018. Approximately 150 thousand Christians are living in Iran, most of them are Armenians, who celebrate Christmas in churches and in the privacy of their homes. Many Muslim families have also adopted some Christmas customs and buy presents and even Christmas trees for the enjoyment of their children

Swimmers of the Serpentine Swimming Club line up for the start of the Peter Pan Cup race, which is held every Christmas Day at the Serpentine, in central London

Swimmers of the Serpentine Swimming Club line up for the start of the Peter Pan Cup race, which is held every Christmas Day at the Serpentine, in central London

Up to 1,000 people - including swimmers as well as well-wishers - descended on Blackroot Pool in Sutton Park, Birmingham for a chilly swim in its lake this morning

Up to 1,000 people – including swimmers as well as well-wishers – descended on Blackroot Pool in Sutton Park, Birmingham for a chilly swim in its lake this morning

Santa Claus arrives at the Wayside Chapel Street Party for the poor and homeless in Sydney, Australia on December 25 

Santa Claus arrives at the Wayside Chapel Street Party for the poor and homeless in Sydney, Australia on December 25 

Those who do not have a place to call their own were treated to a free yuletide party at Birmingham New Street station in Britain

Those who do not have a place to call their own were treated to a free yuletide party at Birmingham New Street station in Britain

Christmas Day at Bondi Beach: December is one of the hottest months of the year across Australia, with Christmas Day traditionally involving a trip to the beach and celebrations outdoors

Christmas Day at Bondi Beach: December is one of the hottest months of the year across Australia, with Christmas Day traditionally involving a trip to the beach and celebrations outdoors

An Indian woman take a selfie with a person dressed as Santa Claus after Christmas prayers at St John's Church in Guwahati on December 25, 2018

An Indian woman take a selfie with a person dressed as Santa Claus after Christmas prayers at St John’s Church in Guwahati on December 25, 2018

A girl posing for a photo in front of an inflatable Santa doll on Christmas Eve in Shenyang in China's northeastern Liaoning province

Inflatable Santas decorate homes and shops all over the world, including in China’s northeastern Liaoning province (left) and Havana, Cuba (right) 

Soldiers from the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery dressed up in Christmas outfits for a traditional Christmas Eve trot through south east London this morning

Soldiers from the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery dressed up in Christmas outfits for a traditional Christmas Eve trot through south east London this morning

An Indian infant lights a candle at a Christmas Day service in a church in Amritsar on December 25

An Indian infant lights a candle at a Christmas Day service in a church in Amritsar on December 25

A woman reacts after being baptised by a priest at Sayuni church, in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo, on December 24, 2018, on the eve of the birth of Jesus marking the Christian holiday of Christmas

A woman reacts after being baptised by a priest at Sayuni church, in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo, on December 24, 2018, on the eve of the birth of Jesus marking the Christian holiday of Christmas

A member of the Berliner Seehunde (Berlin seals) swimming club takes part in their traditional Christmas bath at the Orankesee lake on December 25, 2018 in Berlin

Christmas Day At Bondi Beach

Christmas day swims are traditional in Berlin (left) and Sydney (right) but in very different temperatures – while it was 27°C and sunny at Bondi Beach, brave swimmers at Orankesee lake had to endure a chilly 5°C and cloudy skies 

U.S. and NATO forces pose for a photograph during a ceremony on Christmas Day at the Resolute Support Headquarters, in Kabul, Afghanistan

U.S. and NATO forces pose for a photograph during a ceremony on Christmas Day at the Resolute Support Headquarters, in Kabul, Afghanistan

People in fancy dress to take part in the annual White Christmas Dip at Boscombe Pier, Bournemouth to raise money for Macmillan Caring Locally

People in fancy dress to take part in the annual White Christmas Dip at Boscombe Pier, Bournemouth to raise money for Macmillan Caring Locally

Barbary macaques at Blair Drummond Safari Park in Scotland have a great time finding the tasty morsels hidden amongst the wrapped parcels given to them by keepers

Barbary macaques at Blair Drummond Safari Park in Scotland have a great time finding the tasty morsels hidden amongst the wrapped parcels given to them by keepers

A Barbary macaque unwraps a present at Blair Drummond Safari Park in Scotland

A Barbary macaque finds the tasty morsels hidden amongst the wrapped parcels given to him by keepers

The Barbary macaques need care and attention every day and Christmas is no different – the animals are checked, fed and given enrichment, including presents, to keep them stimulated

Members of the Swiss Guard arrive at the Saint Peter's Square before the Pope Francis' "Urbi et Orbi" message at the Vatican, December 25, 2018

Members of the Swiss Guard arrive at the Saint Peter’s Square before the Pope Francis’ ‘Urbi et Orbi’ message at the Vatican, December 25, 2018

A Vietnamese woman carries her child dressed in Santa Claus costume as they walk past the late 19th-century St. Joseph's cathedral in the old quarters of Hanoi during Christmas Eve on December 24, 2018

A Vietnamese woman carries her child dressed in Santa Claus costume as they walk past the late 19th-century St. Joseph’s cathedral in the old quarters of Hanoi during Christmas Eve on December 24, 2018

A staff member of a Catholic church looks on before a mass during the Christmas Eve at a Catholic church in Beijing on December 24, 2018

A staff member of a Catholic church looks on before a mass during the Christmas Eve at a Catholic church in Beijing on December 24, 2018

A woman poses for a photo with Christmas ornaments as she celebrates Christmas in Bangkok, Thailand December 25 2018

A woman poses for a photo with Christmas ornaments as she celebrates Christmas in Bangkok, Thailand December 25 2018

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