Christmas is one of the biggest festivals in the world... one not limited by region or religion. It is celebrated with the same high spirits in the U.S. as it is in any other part of the world. The motive and the spirit remains the same... it is only the tradition, the stories and the beliefs that change.

Here are some interesting facts and images of Christmas celebrations from countries across the world, as well as different names for Santa Claus and customs, compiled from Portharbor.com...

Santa Claus in China is called Dun Che Lao Ren and children here play the same game with stockings as those in the U.S. do... waiting for Santa to secretly put their desired gift in it. People light their homes with artistic paper lanterns.

In Columbia, Dec. 8 (and not Dec. 25) is a national holiday. Roman Catholics here follow a nine-day prayer ritual and Christmas carols are called Villancicos. In addition, the Colombians have a special chicken soup called Ajiaco and also make homemade breads, fritters, roast pork and a corn-based dessert.

Santa Claus is known as Father Christmas in England, the country often acknowledged as the birthplace of several prominent Christmas customs. In the first place, the use of a Christmas tree first became popular after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert used one. Another custom is the idea of Boxing Day (Dec. 26, the day after Christmas) and its own customs. Finally, it is interesting to note that English children do not open their gifts early in the morning, like the Americans do. Instead, they wait till afternoon.

The French Santa is known as Pere Noel and he brings small gifts from the very beginning of December. In France, the children put shoes instead of stockings by their fireplace. People here have Christmas dinner at midnight on Dec. 24, a feast they call Le Reveillon.

The Italians have to wait till Jan. 6 to exchange gifts. They belive La Befana (Santa Claus) brings the gifts.

The Japanese decorate their homes with greens. Their version of Santa Claus is called Hoteiosha.

Mexican Christmas is called Navida and, like Colombia, the festival is celebrated for nine days. Here too people celebrate by dressing up as Mary and Joseph, while the children get a pinata... a box made of papier-mâché and filled with candies and chocolates! The deal is they have to break it blindfolded.

In Spain, children leave their shoes on the window hoping Santa will place gifts in them. Christmas is called Eve Nochebuena.

In Russia, Babouschka brings gifts for the children and Santa Claus - Grandfather Frost for them - wears blue outfits instead of red.

In Switzerland, Santa Claus is called Christkind, wears white and sports a golden crown. 

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Photo Credit: Reuters. A man dressed as Spain's Duchess of Alba Cayetana attends the draw for Spain's Christmas Lottery El Gordo in Madrid, December 22, 2011.

A man dressed as Spain's Duchess of Alba Cayetana attends the draw for Spain's Christmas Lottery El Gordo in Madrid.

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Photo Credit: Reuters

Colombians perform during a parade celebrating the arrival of Christmas in Medellin. Colombians celebrate December 7 as the first day of the Christmas season.

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Photo Credit: Reuters

Colombians perform during a parade celebrating the arrival of Christmas in Medellin. Colombians celebrate December 7 as the first day of the Christmas season.

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Photo Credit: Reuters

A Colombian wears a costume while performing during a parade celebrating the arrival of Christmas in Medellin. Colombians celebrate December 7 as the first day of the Christmas season.

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Photo Credit: Reuters

A man dressed in a dog costume paddleboards with a boy on the surf during the traditional Christmas bath in Monaco.

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Photo Credit: Reuters

A Christmas decoration at Ibirapuera Park in Sao Paulo.

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Photo Credit: Reuters

A man dressed in a bear costume takes part in a traditional fair for Christmas and New Year celebrations at the Village Museum in Bucharest. In pre-Christian rural traditions, dancers wearing colored costumes or animal furs, toured from house to house in villages singing and dancing to ward off evil. In the current economic situation in Romania, an European Union member since 2007, the tradition has moved to Romania's cities where dancers travel to perform the ritual for money.

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Photo Credit: Reuters

A man dressed as Spain's Duchess of Alba Cayetana attends the draw for Spain's Christmas Lottery El Gordo in Madrid. The total prize money of 2.52 billion Euros ($3.29 billion) is split into thousands of cash prizes amongst hundreds of winning numbers.

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Photo Credit: Reuters

People drink cava as they celebrate winning the second prize of Spain's Christmas Lottery El Gordo in Manises, near Valencia. The total prize money of 2.52 billion Euros ($3.29 billion) is split into thousands of cash prizes amongst hundreds of winning numbers.

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Photo Credit: Reuters

People celebrate having one of the winning tickets as they show a facsimile of the winning lottery number in Spain's Christmas Lottery El Gordo in Granen, northern Spain. The total prize money of 2.52 billion Euros ($3.29 billion) is split into thousands of cash prizes amongst hundreds of winning numbers.

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Photo Credit: Reuters. School children watch a professional diver wearing a Santa Claus suit feed fishes inside a giant aquarium as part of celebrations for Christmas at the Manila Ocean Park December 7, 2011.

The Philippines, a primarily Roman Catholic country in Southeast Asia, celebrates one of the longest Christmas holidays in the world, playing Christmas carols in shopping malls in September and putting up lantern and fireworks early in December.

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Photo Credit: Reuters

A man dressed as Santa Claus waves aboard a sea rescuers' boat during the traditional Christmas bath in Villeneuve Loubet, southeastern France.

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Photo Credit: Reuters

A view of a bridge illuminated with Christmas lights is reflected on the water in Ljubljana's old city.

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Photo Credit: Reuters

A 30-metre-high Christmas tree, which came from the forests of west Ukraine, is lit during a ceremony in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican.

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Photo Credit: Reuters

Christmas decorations in front of Taiwan's landmark Taipei 101 building.

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Photo Credit: Reuters

Crib enthusiast Charles Sammut places a figurine of cherub angels on an Neapolitan crib being set up at Palazzo Ferreria, which houses the Ministry of Education, as part of its Christmas decorations in Valletta. The monumental crib spanning five metres (16 feet) includes several figurines which date back to the 18th century, according to the organisers.

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Photo Credit: Reuters

Colombians perform during a parade celebrating the arrival of Christmas in Medellin. Colombians celebrate December 7 as the first day of the Christmas season.

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Photo Credit: Reuters

A man dressed as Santa Claus poses during an event to celebrate the upcoming Christmas holiday season at a shopping mall in Tokyo.

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Photo Credit: Reuters

Christmas decorations made from recycled PET drinking bottles illuminate the city of Benevides, near Belem at the mouth of the Amazon River. The lights were made as a joint project between the city government and the local union of garbage recyclers.

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Photo Credit: Reuters

A house decorated with Christmas illuminations in downtown Hamburg.

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Photo Credit: Reuters

German Bundeswehr soldiers of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) pose during a photo session with a Dutch ISAF soldier (3rd L) during Christmas celebrations at the ISAF camp in Kunduz.

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Photo Credit: Reuters

Volunteers stack milk tin cans to form a Christmas tree in Athens. The cans were donated to the Medecins Du Monde, a non-governmental organisation, by the public, which then distributes them to the poor.