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World News

Photos of Christmas 2023 around the world

Palestinian pastor speaks about Gaza war: ‘It feels like even God is silent’

Palestinian pastor speaks about Gaza war: ‘It feels like even God is silent’


Families around the world celebrate Christmas Day with traditions both old and new – from church services to ice swimming races. The Christian holiday honoring the birth of Jesus of Nazareth is celebrated by billions of people around the world and, although customs vary between cultures, the universal theme of the holiday is love and joy – overshadowed this year by the assessment of the war in the Middle East, Ukraine and other conflicts around the world.

Here’s a look at the 2023 Christmas scenes around the world, starting with the blessing of Pope Francis, who delivered his annual address. Christmas message calling for peace from St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.

Pope Francis delivers his Urbi et Orbi Christmas blessing
Pope Francis delivers his “Urbi et Orbi” (“To the city and the world”) blessing from the central loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica, December 25, 2023, in Vatican City.

/Getty Images

Celebrations in Bethlehem, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, have been subdued amid the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas. Many public celebrations were canceled and one church displayed a Nativity scene showing the baby Jesus wrapped in a keffiyeh and surrounded by rubble.

A subdued Christmas season in Bethlehem, West Bank
Worshipers pray in the grotto, believed to be the place where Jesus was born, at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, West Bank, December 25, 2023.

/Getty Images

A subdued Christmas season in Bethlehem, West Bank
A Nativity scene at the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem, West Bank, shows baby Jesus wrapped in a keffiyeh and surrounded by rubble to show solidarity with the people of Gaza, December 24, 2023.

/Getty Images

Christmas celebrations in Bethlehem
The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Pierbattista Pizzaballa, takes part in Christmas celebrations in Bethlehem, West Bank, December 24, 2023.

Wisam Hashlamoun/Anadolu via Getty Images

King Charles of England used its annual Christmas message to encourage kindness and compassion, and gathered with members of the royal family for religious services at their Sandringham estate.

Royals attend Christmas Day church service
Queen Camilla and King Charles III greet the pastor after Christmas Day services at St Mary Magdalene Church, Sandringham, December 25, 2023.

Joe Giddens/PA Images via Getty Images

British royal family attend Christmas morning service
Catherine, Princess of Wales, and her son Prince George, wave to the crowd gathered outside St Mary Magdalene Church on Christmas Day, December 25, 2023, in Sandringham, Norfolk.

Samir Hussein/WireImage/Getty Images

Christmas morning service at Canterbury Cathedral in the UK
The Archbishop of Canterbury leads the Christmas morning Eucharistic service at Canterbury Cathedral, UK, December 25, 2023.

Stuart Brock/Anadolu via Getty Images

Ukraine celebrated Christmas on December 25 instead of the traditional Orthodox date of January 7 for the first time, after the government changed the date as a snub for Russia, which invaded the country almost two years ago.

Children, dressed in traditional Ukrainian outfits, take part in Christmas celebrations in the village of Pyrogove, near kyiv, December 25, 2023.


A woman takes part in Christmas celebrations in the village of Pyrogove, near kyiv, Ukraine, December 25, 2023.


It was a foggy Christmas morning in New York.

Sunrise on Christmas Day in New York
One World Trade Center casts a shadow over passing fog as the sun rises in New York on December 25, 2023, as seen from Jersey City, New Jersey.

Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

The Empire State Building lit up for Christmas in New York
New York’s Empire State Building is lit up in holiday colors, as seen from Weehawken, New Jersey, December 24, 2023.

Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

NORAD, the joint US-Canadian military surveillance agency, continued its a Christmas tradition that has lasted for decades of follow Santa’s journey around the globe.

Illustration shows NORAD tracking Santa Claus over New York City
This illustration shows the NORAD tracker following Santa Claus flying over New York on a computer screen on December 24, 2023.

CHRIS DELMAS/AFP via Getty Images

People pose for photos next to snowman decorations in China
People pose for photos next to decorative snowmen on a shopping street on December 25, 2023 in Shenyang, Liaoning province, China.

Wang Ruizhong/VCG via Getty Images

Australia celebrates Christmas holidays
Santa Claus and his dog Rudolph arrive in Sydney Harbor in Australia to deliver gifts to participants in the Rolex Sydney-Hobart yacht race, December 25, 2023.

/Getty Images

Some marked the occasion with a celebratory but freezing swim in the ocean.

Swimming on Christmas Day in Hunstanton
Swimmers, some dressed in large inflatable suits, head out to sea on December 25, 2023 in Hunstanton, England. The traditional festive swim has a history dating back more than 60 years, with swimmers dressing up in fancy dress and raising money for charity.

Martin Pape/Getty Images

Swimming on Christmas Day - Dublin
Patrick Corkery, dressed as Father Christmas, takes part in the annual Christmas Day swim at the Forty Foot swimming venue in Sandycove, Dublin, Ireland.

Niall Carson/PA Images via Getty Images

A participant dressed as Santa Claus jumps into the water during the 114th Copa Nadal (Christmas Cup) swimming race at Port Vell in Barcelona, ​​December 25, 2023.

JOSEP LAGO/AFP via Getty Images

More photos from Christmas celebrations around the world:

Traffic police officers in Christmas costumes walk the streets of Lima
Police officers from the road brigade in Lima, Peru, wear Christmas costumes and ride motorbikes through the streets to deliver gifts to children, December 24, 2023.

Klebher Vasquez/Anadolu via Getty Images

Worshipers attend a Christmas mass on Christmas Day at the Basilica of the Holy Family in Nairobi
Worshipers attend mass on Christmas Day at the Basilica of the Holy Family in Nairobi, Kenya, December 25, 2023.


A view of a Christmas tree at the Galerie d'Orléans during Christmas time in Paris
A view of a Christmas tree at the Galerie d’Orléans during the Christmas period in Paris, France.


Worshipers gather to celebrate Christmas at the rehabilitated Presbyterian Church in Jaranwala, Pakistan, December 25, 2023, months after homes and churches in the area were attacked for alleged blasphemy.

AMNA YASEEN/AFP via Getty Images

Worshipers light candles during Christmas Day celebrations at a church in Amritsar, India, December 25, 2023.

NALINDER NANU/AFP via Getty Images

A child plays with bubbles as people gather at Rizal Park on Christmas Day in Manila, the Philippines, December 25, 2023.

EARVIN PERIAS/AFP via Getty Images

People take photos and gather around a Pokémon-themed Christmas display in front of the Central World shopping mall in Bangkok, Thailand, December 25, 2023.


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