What is Christmas like in Bethlehem?

December 26, 2019

What is Christmas like in Bethlehem?

You may be wondering what is Christmas like in Bethlehem. Well, at the break of day on a cold rainless morning, the people of the biblical city of Bethlehem in the Holy Land woke up to the sound of Christmas cheer that rang out through Bethlehem's Manger Square (where a 50-foot Christmas tree had been erected) and the sound of the Scouts preparing to hit the streets to start the Christmas celebrations.

Just like every 24th of December of every year, a large number of locals and foreigners gathered at Manger Square to welcome the acting Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa who lead a procession from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, alongside many other pilgrims, who came from all around the world to visit the Church of the Nativity, the birthplace of our lord and savior Jesus Christ. In fact, Bethlehem is enjoying its busiest tourist year in two decades, as foreign pilgrims and worshipers flocked to the city revered.

Unlike other places in the world, Christmas celebrations lasts longer in Bethlehem due to the fact that Christians in Bethlehem come from different sects. Roman Catholics and Protestants celebrate Christmas Day on December 25, Greek, Syrian and other Orthodox Christians observe it on 6th January. Afterwards, Armenian Christians celebrate it on the 18th of January. Thus, the Christmas festivities in Bethlehem begin in early December and last well into January. Bethlehem is the perfect place to be around Christmas time where the Christmas spirit is evermore lasting, which is only natural since it's the birthplace of Jesus Christ.

The Fourteen Pointed StarThe Fourteen Pointed Star beneath altar in the Nativity Grotto, marks spot of the birthplace of Jesus Christ by the Blessed Virgin Mary
In addition to the large crowd, the Apostolic Administrator was greeted by civil and religious authorities at Manger Square; he then visited the Basilica of the Nativity, and entered the Basilica of St. Catherine to the rhythm of the Benedictus afterwards. He later celebrated Midnight Mass in the Church of the Nativity, which was also attended by Mahmoud Abbas, President of the State of Palestine, and Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh.
What is Christmas like in Bethlehem?
The Catholic Christmas Parade of 2019 in Bethlehem

The Christmas parade included different Scouts from all over the Holy Land, a group of Palestinian girls dressed in traditional Palestinian clothing, and many clowns and jugglers. Christmas in the Holy Land puts everyone in Palestine in a blissful and peaceful state. It brings faithful believers from all around the world together with the “Living Stones” of the Holy Land, and it is not exclusively celebrated by Christians; many local Muslims also participate in the festivities of Christmas every year. The season offers measured cheer for all Palestinians in face of the political tension, and especially for Christians in Gaza Strip who have been permitted to visit Bethlehem at Christmas this year.

Christmas Tree Lighting in Bethlehem

"We want the world to hear that the place of birth of Jesus Christ does not deserve a separation wall and the road to his birth place should not be hindered by roadblocks, and to come and see how Palestinians together decorate their Christmas trees, and deliver a message of brotherhood, love and united citizenship," Mohammad Shtayyeh said during the Christmas tree lighting in Manger Square - an official ceremony announcing the beginning of Christmas celebrations in Palestine. 

In December, the streets of Bethlehem are strung with lights and Nativity scenes are displayed under Christmas trees in almost every household.

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