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Celebrations

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Published Jan 22, 2016 | View the Assignment | Features Photos From 32 Contributors

    32 photos selected by

    Becky Harlan
    Associate Producer

    The Devotees popularly known as "SANYASHI" painted their body & faces in The Bengali New year . T...

    #colorful #face #people #painted

    Humans everywhere weave celebrations into the fabric of their years. Like a colored seam in an otherwise neutral garment, these rituals add ornament, but they also bind people together in the pursuit of a shared purpose. 

    It was impossible to fit every tradition into this story.  But what I found while editing was that there are so many similarities in how we celebrate our traditions, carry out our values, and spend time with our loved ones. Costumes, gifts, food, and processions rose to the top as common themes. And they are carried out, as it's stated in the popular Christmas song "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire," by "kids from 1 to 92." 

    I loved seeing the roles that people take on—from a child dressed as Krishna playing a flute in front of a cardboard backdrop to a grown man donning a bear costume in Romania. Celebrations can create space for people to step out of their own identity and take part in community. 

    People celebrating Holi in a Temple in the city of Vrindavan, India.

    #colours #holi #festivals #vrindavan

    Editor's Note

    There are so many beautiful images of Holi out there that it's often difficult to say why one stands out over another. For me, the hands in the center of the frame, reaching toward light rays, whic... More

    Becky Harlan
    Associate Producer

    She insisted on having party hats for her cousins second birthday. Grandma even stopped on the wa...

    #pout #toddler #laughoutloud #unicorn #birthday #lol #partyhats #grumpy

    Editor's Note

    "It's My Party, and I'll Cry if I Want To," was a popular song when I was growing up. This photo ... More

    Becky Harlan
    Associate Producer

    Every year, one week before Christmas, a festival of traditions and customs takes place on the st...

    #hair #man #customs #bucovina #romania #traditions #costume #christmas #street #culture #dancing #bear

    Editor's Note

    It's not every day you see an introspective-looking bear. I'm drawn in by this man's expression a... More

    Becky Harlan
    Associate Producer

    Every corner you turn in, Oaxaca during day of the dead you'll find a beautifully crafted, colorf...

    #mexico #marigold #dailydozen #oaxaca #colors #losdiamuerto #dayofthedead

    The Day of the Dead is one of the most representative celebrations in México. This celebration ta...

    #streetphotography #mexico #emotions #traditions #candid #street #portrait #people

    Hindu believers sited together on floor in Lokenath Brahmachari Temple at Swamibag, Dhaka for pra...

    #brahmachari #observe #bangladesh #lamp #hindu #religion #ponir #dhaka #lokenath #rakher_upabash

    Ariel shot of Kolam Festival which happens as part of the Mylapore Festival in Chennai in India. ...

    #mylaporefestival #chennai #art #kolam #bhaskar #places #people #culture #india

    Many of Santa Claus

    Editor's Note

    A bird's eye view is the perfect way to capture this sea of Santas. Upon further examination, I love that all of these red-clad Santa devotees appear to be youngsters following along in a dance.

    Becky Harlan
    Associate Producer

    once the presents are all unwrapped.

    #kids #traditions #christmas #family #celebration

    Editor's Note

    What I love about this photo is that it's both adorable and a caricature of a modern Christmas. (I say that not as a critic but a participant.) The child is perfectly placed amidst the discarded wr... More

    Becky Harlan
    Associate Producer

    2016 New year celebration in zurich lake

    #firework #2016 #year #lake #new

    Editor's Note

    I have seen a lot of firework photos. But this quiet, subtle rendition makes fireworks look more ... More

    Becky Harlan
    Associate Producer

    The Face:'Charak' is special festival in Tripura and West Bengal; dedicated to Lord Shiva.... I h...

    #followtheyellowborder #portrait #people #travel #culture #india

    Thimithi is a Tamil festival of penance, in which patrons pierce their body to thanks almighty

    #celebration #culture

    This was taken during Iloilo's biggest festival, Dinagyang. Celebrated every fourth week of Janu...

    #philippines #iloilo #iloilo_philippines #dinagyang2015 #iloilocity #manny_librodo

    Editor's Note

    Motion blur is difficult to do right. To me, this is done right. I feel like I am there, awash in the colors and the energy of the dance.

    Becky Harlan
    Associate Producer

    The carnival in Jamaica is every year around Easter time and these ladies are taking a rest at th...

    #carnival #letsexplore #costumes #colorful #dancer #kingston #caribbean #jamaica #love #travel #girls

    Editor's Note

    All dressed up and resting at a bus stop. This quiet moment really stuck with me. It's what I love about celebrations—the in between moments where regular life and ceremony bleed into one another a... More

    Becky Harlan
    Associate Producer

    A Second Line reveler feels the joy as he leads a pseudo revival during a performance at The New ...

    #new_orleans #dailydozen #nola #celebrations #jazzfest #mytown #second_line #smile

    Editor's Note

    The first time I saw this image from the New Orleans Jazz Festival, I swear I could hear it - and each time I’ve revisited it since the blow of the boy’s whistle and the music of the festival still... More

    Ben Fitch
    Associate Photo Editor, Traveler Magazine

    Choosing images with a unique voice was important to me. We've all seen a lot of festival and holiday images, and many of them are nice to look at, but  I didn't want to feel like someone just walked up to a scene, snapped a photo, and walked away. I craved a unique and intentional perspective—clearly, cleverly, and beautifully framed. These photos did that. 

    Luminara di San Ranieri - Pisa, italy. In the first two weeks of June hundreds of white wooden bo...

    #candles #tradition #italy #lighting #tuscany #secret #pisa #celebration #luminara #san_ranieri

    Editor's Note

    Your straight on perspective and perfect lines in this photo are spot on. They create the perfect... More

    Becky Harlan
    Associate Producer

    Ogi-Matsuri is one of the largest fire festival in Japan and held in Kumano mountains of Wakayama...

    #festival #flaming #celebrations #torches #parade

    People throw firecrackers at a shirtless man acting as Master Handan during the Handan ritual on ...

    Nepalese devotees in a Newari traditional attire carrying tradition bronze metal pots during the ...

    #nepal #newari_culture #kathmandu #festival #traditional_attire #celebration #culture #jatra #nep

    On new year's day, Vietnamese people go to Long Son house to ask the old teachers for a calligrap...

    #calligraphy #tet

    Editor's Note

    This is a beautiful tradition and its representation is well expressed in the basically monochrome image that's flooded with red. I can't read the calligraphy, but I get the sense that these people... More

    Becky Harlan
    Associate Producer

    I am married to an Indian so I have adopted all of his traditions. Janmashtami is my top FAV cele...

    #krishna #festival #light #child #stage #tableau #baby #costume #portrait #janmashtami #people #culture

    Editor's Note

    Oh the magic of childhood, when reality is suspended and imagination takes over. I love that you ... More

    Becky Harlan
    Associate Producer

    Christmas Eve is a celebration that has a very special part in Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox holiday...

    #dishes #celebrations #traditions #family #christmas_eve #food #holiday #people #table

    Editor's Note

    Something about this image makes me feel at home. You presented the (slightly strange) combinatio... More

    Becky Harlan
    Associate Producer

    Every year in Canosa di Puglia, on Holy Saturday, the rite of the Desolate, an ancient and very p...

    #canosa #woman #desolata #puglia

    Veterans of WWII and their relatives celebrate the Victory Day in Jerusalem. About 1000 veterans ...

    #jerusalem #israel #victory_day #veterans

    My daughter Nova preparing bouquets and hair garments from wild flowers for the traditional midsu...

    #flowers #scandinavia #celebration #traditional #midsummer #sweden

    Editor's Note

    One thing I love about this quiet photo is the contrast: an explosion of color in an otherwise ne... More

    Becky Harlan
    Associate Producer

    Debris of the Chinese New Year festivities at a small mountain temple in Zhejiang province

    #temple #moon_festival #china #new_year #waterfall #debris #tellyourpollutionstory #fireworks

    Mumbai, India - Nov. 8, 2015: Ahead of Diwali (Hindu festival of lights) a street child collectin...

    #diwali #festival #child #crackers #celebration #india

    Holi, India’s festival of colors, is an ancient Hindu tradition that is celebrated around the wor...

    #festival #holi #india #vrindavan

    Editor's Note

    This photo is more muted than many I've seen from Holi, so it allows me to focus more on the puls... More

    Becky Harlan
    Associate Producer

    This pic was taken during eid at kolkata.. that kid was wondering what was happening there.. may ...

    #kid #candid #eid #street #people #celebration #wonder

    The Children's Center of Wayne County serves 7,500 Detroit children and family annually. Every mo...

    Somewhere in the former Ukraine. All coincidence is casual

    #colour #moment #blue #fun #contrast #daily_life #life #joke #yellow #colouful

    Editor's Note

    This yellow wall sets the perfect backdrop for this blue bunny to pop. I'm charmed by the casual, conversational gesture of this grown-man in an Easter Bunny outfit, and his little cotton ball tail... More

    Becky Harlan
    Associate Producer

    Thank you all for giving me a window into the world of your traditions. Despite the similarities in our celebratory tendencies, there are still a lot of differences. So I learned a lot. 

    Your images warmed my heart. They made me laugh, made my jaw drop, made me want to travel, and most of all they made me appreciate the beauty of traditions, even my own. 

    About the Editor
    Becky Harlan
    Associate Producer
    Becky Harlan is from the mountains of East Tennessee. She grew to love photography through the study of art history, and it's still the story behind each photo that fascinates her. She is an associate producer for National Geographic digital.

    Photographers Published In the Story