In pictures: Christmas celebrations around the globe

Christmas is an annual festival, commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ. However, the arrival of Santa Claus, who distributes gifts, becomes the centre of interest among children. 

Here are some of the pictures of how people across the globe celebrate the festival.

Santa's Journey

Santa Claus had begun his annual journey, yesterday, to deliver Christmas gifts to children all over the world, braving freezing temperatures as he departed from his home inside the Arctic Circle.

Families gathered in temperatures of -22 degrees Celsius at Santa's official residence in the town of Rovaniemi, Finland, which lies inside the Arctic Circle, to listen to Christmas songs and bid farewell to Santa as he embarks on the busiest period in his calendar.

With his elves putting on a song-and-dance performance to wish him luck, Santa spoke to the crowd briefly in Finnish and English, wishing them a peaceful and happy Christmas. (Courtesy: Reuters)

(Photograph:Reuters)

It's Christmas time

A record four million lights transformed one family's country estate in central Croatia into a Christmas-themed fairy tale delighting visitors and locals.

The seven-hectare park grew out of a childhood dream of Zlatko Salaj, a local man from the village of Grabovnica in central Croatia who had grown up in poverty and could not afford Christmas lights or decorations.

This year's display opened its doors on November 30 and will last until January 13, and some 130,000 people are expected to come to the estate to enjoy the unique sights, which include daily fireworks, lit up snowmen and Santas as well as hundreds of decorated trees and shrubs. (Courtesy: Reuters)

(Photograph:Reuters)

2000 Santas run for charity

A snowy Moscow park turned red as 2,000 volunteers dressed as Santas came together for a charity run to raise money for Russian hospices.

Participants could choose between the distances of five and ten kilometres inside the park of the Soviet VDNKH expo centre. Each of them donated 1,500 roubles (around $21) in the charity fund called Vera (Faith). (Courtesy: Reuters)

(Photograph:Reuters)

Flying Santa

Santa Claus showed off his moves in a wind tunnel in northeastern Spain as children watched in awe ahead of the Christmas celebrations.

Some children, who had left letters for Santa Claus, also flew with him in the tunnel. (Courtesy: Reuters)

(Photograph:Reuters)

Santas trade their reindeer for elephants

Santas in Thailand traded their reindeer for elephants for an annual Christmas event at a school in northern Ayutthaya province. 

Five elephants decorated in festive attire - three adults, and two calves - handed out balloons, snacks, tinsel and more than 500 stuffed toys to almost 2,000 eager children. Their Santa-posing mahouts kept the show in line.

"Santa Claus doesn't come in a sleigh anymore," said volunteer elephant keeper Brett Batcer. "He only comes by an elephant." (Courtesy: Reuters)

(Photograph:Reuters)

Christmas parade for festive season

A parade was held in Damascus to celebrate Christmas with a band comprising more than 100 Syrian scout troops.

The parade kicked-off in Bab Touma and ended in Abbasiyeen square passing through Qassa, in Eastern Ghouta, areas that were targets of incessant shelling and mortar attacks by rebel groups for years. (Courtesy: Reuters)

(Photograph:Reuters)

Indians celebrate Christmas

Indian Christians offer prayers during a service to mark Christmas Day at a church in Amritsar on December 25, 2018.

Despite Christians forming a little over two per cent of the billion plus population in India, with Hindus comprising the majority, Christmas is celebrated with much fanfare and zeal across the country.

(Photograph:AFP)

Merry Christmas

Christian worshippers exit after Christmas morning mass from the Mar Addai Chaldean Church in the predominantly Iraqi Christian town of Qaraqosh, in Nineveh province some 30 kilometres from Mosul, on December 25, 2018. 

(Photograph:AFP)

US President Trump and the First lady

US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump answered calls from people calling into the NORAD Santa tracker phone line in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, DC. 

(Photograph:Reuters)

Traditional Christmas bath

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

(Photograph:AFP)