The Carrolls, who once raised cattle, decided three decades ago to raise Christmas trees instead. The trees take seven to 12 years to mature. Courtesy of Claybrooke Farm hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Claybrooke Farm

Around Christmas, people around the world covet a Rudolph, Wis., postmark on their cards and letters. Carrie Antlfinger/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Carrie Antlfinger/AP

A sculpture at Britannia stadium in the English city of Stoke-on-Trent commemorates the Christmas Truce, a legendary soccer game played between German and British troops in December 1914. Rui Vieira/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Rui Vieira/AP

A man peddles plastic Christmas trees and lights in downtown Monrovia. John W. Poole/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption John W. Poole/NPR

Australian Christmas today is characterized by gastronomic eclecticism. Many of us have abandoned the old British customs — except for the rich and alcoholic Christmas pudding. Edward Shaw/iStockphoto hide caption

itoggle caption Edward Shaw/iStockphoto

Col. Harry Shoup came to be known as the "Santa Colonel." He died in 2009. Courtesy of NORAD hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of NORAD

In Jerusalem, Syrian Orthodox Christian Nadia Ishaq prepares her burbara porridge with boiled what kernels, raisins, dried plums and dried apricots, topped with ground coconut in the shape of a cross. The holiday honors St. Barbara, an early convert to Christianity whose story is echoed in the Rapunzel tale. Daniella Cheslow for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Daniella Cheslow for NPR

A woman prepares a Japanese Christmas cake at the Patisserie Akira Cake shop on Dec. 23, 2011. The sponge cake is drenched in symbolic meaning. Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images