There are only a few days left until Christmas, and Santa Claus and his many helpers have been busy around the globe. From London to Tokyo, from the Ivory Coast to Los Angeles, people are out enjoying the winter weather, shopping for loved ones, visiting Santa, and taking part in pageants in anticipation of the big day. This collection is a quick tour of many different Christmas celebrations. Merry Christmas, everyone! The next photo essay here will be posted on Wednesday, the 26th.
In this combination of two images the interior of Salisbury Cathedral is illuminated by trails of candles carried by choristers during the annual "darkness to light" advent procession on December 1, 2012 in Salisbury, England. The service -- which begins with the medieval cathedral in total darkness and silence before the Advent Candle is lit at the West End -- is one of the most popular services of the liturgical year. The annual advent service, which takes place over three nights and is seen by several thousand people, is a mix of music and readings during which two great candlelit processions move around the different spaces in the 750-year-old building which, by the end, is illuminated by almost 1,300 candles.
(Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
A newly-decorated Christmas tree lit behind him, U.S. Army 1st Lt. Aaron Dunn hands his baby Emma to his wife Leanne, in their living room in Fountain, Colorado, one week after Dunn's return from a tour of duty in Afghanistan, on December 8, 2012. 1st Lt. Dunn had not seen his wife and baby since his unit deployed to the mountains of Afghanistan in February.
(AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
Eric Marshall sets up his Christmas lights on his house in Bagby, England, on December 17, 2012. Eric spends 3 weeks each year setting up the display which runs throughout December to the 12th night and raises funds for the local church. Eric has raised nearly £20,000 over the past 20 years when he started out with one Santa and sleigh.
Michael Sciaraffo, costumed as Santa Claus, makes a toy delivery to a home in the Bell Harbor neighborhood of New York, on December 18, 2012. Using Facebook, Sciaraffo started a charitable enterprise to collect and personally deliver toys to children affected by Superstorm Sandy, dressed as Santa.
(AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
A child reacts to a reveler dressed as a devil at the Old Town Square in Prague, on the eve of Saint Nicholas Day December 5, 2012. Revelers dressed as Saint Nicholas and a devil approached children on the streets as part of a tradition to determine if they had behaved well during the past year and depending on their answers, would receive presents, sweets or coal accordingly.
(Reuters/David W Cerny)
People react to a snow machine as they gather to look at Christmas lights that adorn a house in Melksham, England, on December 8, 2012. The lights, a popular festive attraction, have returned to the town after a two-year absence and have raised thousands of pounds for charity for a local hospice, Dorothy House.
(Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
A 14-foot Christmas tree appears to be crashing through the roof of a one-story house in Seattle's Magnolia neighborhood, on December 20, 2012. Homeowner Patrick Kruger created the illusion of the tree crashing through the roof by cutting a 14-foot tree into two pieces and attaching the top six-foot section is to a piece of plywood that's bolted to the roof.
(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
A worker cuts a "Spanbaum" Christmas figure at the "Erzgebirgische Volkskunst Richard Glaesser" factory in Seiffen, Germany, on November 28, 2012. For several decades the eastern German region of Erzgebirge has produced wooden folk art of smokers, nutcrackers and pyramids especially used as decoration during the Christmas season.
Saint Nicholas is followed by his two assistants called "Zwarte Piet" (Black Pete) during a traditional parade in central Brussels, Belgium, on December 1, 2012. The Netherlands and Belgium are two countries that pride themselves on progressive laws and open societies, but critics say they are stuck in the dark ages when it comes to depictions of Santa Claus and his helpers. Saint Nicholas, or "Sinterklaas" in Dutch, brings presents to children on December 5 in the Netherlands and on December 6 in Belgium, and is always accompanied by at least one assistant dressed in 17th century costume who has a blackened face.
Valery Kokoulin, 47, dressed as Santa Claus, rings a bell on his self-made yacht to mark the ending of the sailboat season, as the air temperature dropped to minus 23 degrees of Celsius (minus 9.4 degrees Fahrenheit), on the Yenisei River, outside Russia's Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, on December 7, 2012.
Capitol Hill police check an unidentified man dressed as Santa Claus with a metal detector as he enters the U.S. Capitol on his way to Speaker of the House John Boehner's office in Washington, DC, on December 12, 2012. The man was working with the group Catholics United, and wanted to urge Speaker of the House John Boehner to pass pending "fiscal cliff" legislation before Christmas.
(Win McNamee/Getty Images)
A bundle carrying humanitarian supplies and gifts drifts to the ground off the shore of an island in Micronesia after C-130 Hercules crews from Yokota Air Base, Japan, flew them in for Operation Christmas Drop, an annual mission -- the longest-running U.S. Department of Defense mission in full operation, on December 18, 2012. The plane took off from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, to airlift the donated bundles to islands in need. Donations come largely from local communities in Guam, and include everything from fishing nets and canned goods, to toys and games.
(AP Photo/U.S. Air Force, Tech. Sgt. Samuel Morse)
Icelandic philanthropist Einar Sveinsson, dressed as Santa Claus, speaks with a patient at the oncology ward during a visit to the Benjamin Bloom National Children Hospital, in San Salvador, on December 11, 2012. Sveinsson has visited the hospital prior to Christmas every year since 2001 to give gifts to the patients.
(Jose Cabezas/AFP/Getty Images)
Fireworks light the sky near a giant Christmas tree in Puerto Princesa city, Palawan, west of Manila, on December 1, 2012. The Philippines, a mainly Roman Catholic country, celebrates one of the longest Christmas holidays in the world, playing Christmas carols in shopping malls in September and putting up lanterns and fireworks early in December.
A police officer dressed in a blue Santa Claus costume holds a sack and cane in the Macacos slum after arriving by police helicopter in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on December 20, 2012. The Pacifying Police Unit, or UPP, organized for Santa to visit the slum to hand out Christmas gifts to young residents.
(AP Photo/Felipe Dana)