The Friday after Thanksgiving has become a shopping phenomena in the United States, with hordes of shoppers queueing up at all hours of the night for discounted holiday goods. The annual tradition has even resulted in deaths, with victims crushed to death by teeming crowds. Even when the sales stay under control, images of crazed shoppers running through stores across the country invariably make headlines on what has been the country's busiest shopping day of the year since at least 2005.
However, Americans aren't the only ones bitten by the holiday shopping bug. Around the globe, major holidays, from Ramadan to the Chinese New Year, send crowds searching for gifts, groceries, and garlands for the festivities. Think your holiday routine is stressful? Take heart: you are not alone.
Above, Sunday shoppers crowd a narrow street in the Ameyoko shopping district in Tokyo on Dec. 27, 2009. More than one million people were expected to visit the district until Dec. 31 to buy groceries in preparation for the New Year's holiday, one of the most important holiday events in Japan.