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'Tis the Season

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With fewer than 10 days until Christmas, holiday celebrations and decorations are on display around the world. Mother Nature has contributed with snowfall from North America to the Middle East, as Santa's helpers busy themselves everywhere from small markets to massive warehouses. Today's essay is a peek at some of the scenes of the season so far. [28 photos]

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Grumpy Cat, acting as Friskies "spokescat", sits on Santa's lap at a promotional event at Capitol Records in Los Angeles, California, on December 10, 2013. (Bret Hartman/AP Images for Friskies)
Grumpy Cat, acting as Friskies "spokescat", sits on Santa's lap at a promotional event at Capitol Records in Los Angeles, California, on December 10, 2013. (Bret Hartman/AP Images for Friskies)
The Christmas tree in the central square is lit during the traditional candle-evening in Gouda, Netherlands, on December 13, 2013. During the event, hundreds of candles are lit in the windows of the houses and the town hall. (Koen van Weel/AFP/Getty Images) #
A man carries a child on his shoulders as they search for a Christmas tree to cut at the Rum River Tree Farm in Anoka, Minnesota, on December 8, 2013. (Reuters/Eric Miller) #
People attend a Christmas light illumination along the Medellin River in Medellin, Colombia, on December 9, 2013. (Raul Arboleda/AFP/Getty Images) #
Christmas lights illuminate the banks of the Medellin River in Medellin, Colombia, on December 9, 2013. (Raul Arboleda/AFP/Getty Images) #
Runners gather at the start line for the annual "Santa Speedo Run," a charity race through the streets of the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, on December 14, 2013. (Reuters/Gretchen Ertl) #
Adam Lopez passes a giant pair of boots outside North Star mall, in San Antonio, Texas, on December 5, 2013. The 40-foot tall boots are decorated with holiday lights annually. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) #
Children enjoy one of the many festive window displays in Selfridges department store in London, England, on December 14, 2013. (Dan Dennison/Getty Images) #
Volunteers construct bikes for TurningWheels for Kids' Big Bike Build at the San Jose Convention Center in San Jose, California, on December 7, 2013. Silicon Valley's Big Bike Build brings out 1,000 corporate volunteers to build over 2,500 bikes as holiday gifts for needy kids. (Jed Jacobsohn/AP Images for Turning Wheels for Kids) #
Sara Cervantes takes pictures of Christmas decorations at Pershing Square, on December 6, 2013, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong) #
Mark Hughes and son Emmet toboggan during a snow storm in Toronto, on December 14, 2013. (Reuters/Aaron Harris) #
A woman swims in the pool at the David Citadel Hotel during a snow storm in Jerusalem, on December 13, 2013. The snowstorm of rare intensity blanketed the Jerusalem area, choking off the city and stranding hundreds in vehicles on impassable roads. (Reuters/Brian Snyder) #
Saudi men walk as their footprints are seen after a rare snowstorm in Alkan village, west of Saudi Arabia, on December 13, 2013. (Reuters/Mohamed Alhwaity) #
A Palestinian youth makes a snowman in the West Bank town of Nablus, on December 13, 2013. Early snow has surprised many Israelis and Palestinians as a blustery storm, dubbed Alexa, brought gusty winds, torrential rains and heavy snowfall to parts of the Middle East. (AP Photo/Nasser Ishtayeh) #
Hordes of Christmas shoppers walk beneath festive lights on Regent Street on December 14, 2013 in London, England. As Christmas Day approaches, London's central shopping districts attempt to lure shoppers into stores with last minute deals in an effort to pull sales away from online outlets. (Dan Dennison/Getty Images) #
Revelers in Santa costumes set of through the streets as they takes part in the annual "Santacon" in central London, on December 14, 2013. (Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images) #
Looking up, from inside a giant Christmas tree illuminated in the Puerta del Sol in the center of Madrid, on December 9, 2013. (Gerard Julien/AFP/Getty Images) #
In Sydney, Australia, the 2013 Lights Of Christmas are launched at St Mary's Cathedral on December 12, 2013. (Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images) #
People carry the Peace Light of Bethlehem at the Cathedral of St Peter and Paul in Brno, Czech Republic, on December 15, 2013. Each year, a young boy from Austria gathers a flame from the grotto in Bethlehem, returning home with it, where the flame is passed onto other European countries and North America with a message of Peace.(Radek Mica/AFP/Getty Images) #
Miles of aisles at an Amazon.com Fulfillment Center on "Cyber Monday", in Phoenix, Arizona, on December 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) #
The first family, from left, President Barack Obama, Malia Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, and Sasha Obama greet children dressed like elves at the National Building Museum in Washington, on December 15, 2013. The first family was attending the taping of the annual 2013 Christmas in Washington, celebrating its 32nd year anniversary. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta) #
People gather to watch Illuminations during a seasonal event ahead of Christmas in Tokyo, Japan, on December 7, 2013. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara) #
A couple skates on the frozen waters of Lake St. Moritz during a sunny winter day in the Swiss mountain resort of St. Moritz, on December 14, 2013. (Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann) #
Young Matias Arango walks in front of a figure representing the Devil to be burned during the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception celebrations in Antigua, Guatemala, on December 7, 2013. These celebrations mark the beginning of the Christmas Season in Guatemala. (AP Photo/Luis Soto) #
A figure representing the Devil is burned during the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception celebrations in Antigua, Guatemala, on December 7, 2013. The celebration marks the beginning of the Christmas Season in Guatemala. (AP Photo/Luis Soto) #
Jesse Sodergren, 2, of San Clemente, California, is held by her father James as she looks at an underwater Santa Claus at the Silverton Casino Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, on December 8, 2013. The underwater Santa and his helpers greet visitors and take present requests from inside the casino's 117,000-gallon aquarium on weekends in December until Christmas. (Reuters/Las Vegas Sun/Steve Marcus) #
Boys from the central Romanian region of Transylvania make noise using whips at the Village Museum in Bucharest, Romania, on December 15, 2013. Children's groups from across Romania performed Christmas and New Year's traditional songs and dances during a two-day festival in the Romanian capital. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda) #
A little girl meets Santa Claus at the German Christmas Market being held on the South Bank in London, England, on December 13, 2013. Running from November 15th to December 24th the Southbank Center German Christmas Market sells food, drinks and a range of gifts to Christmas shoppers. (Dan Dennison/Getty Images) #

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