The countdown until Christmas Day has already begun. Decorations are up; for both Christmas and the Jewish holiday of Chanukah. In Bethlehem, the Christmas tree in front of Church of Nativity has been lit. If you will be on a Holy Land tour in these next few weeks, here are some events you will want to check out:
Bethlehem: The city where Jesus was born
> Breaking Bread Journeys Christmas Market tour (Dec. 19): Join us
to experience Bethlehem like a local and enjoy the special Christmas festivities. Our expert guide will take you behind the scenes, through the market alleyways and into the city’s many important sites as well as into the home of a local Palestinian Christian family where you will break bread and enjoy a traditional home cooked lunch and warm hospitality. Click HERE for more information!
> Christmas Festival (Nov. 23- Jan 9): Located in different locations throughout Bethlehem, artists will be singing at different places in Bethlehem. Below is the schedule, click on the schedule to enlarge it [I apologize for the blurriness, the original on the website is also blurry].
> Midnight Mass (Dec. 24): Since entering the Church of Nativity is impossible without tickets, thousands of people gather together in Manger Square, which is in front of the Church. There will be performances in addition to the Midnight Mass being shown on big screens.
According to Christian locals, Bethlehem is the best place to visit.
Nazareth: The city where Jesus spent his childhood
> Christmas Festival (Dec. 17- 21): Every year Nazareth has a festival where its main market is filled with decorations, lights, and street performances.
Jerusalem: The city where Jesus was crucified
> YMCA Christmas celebrations: The Jerusalem International YMCA will be having a few events prior to Christmas. Below is the schedule and since some require tickets, you can contact the YMCA at 02-5692684.
There will also be celebrations in the centers of both Jaffa and Haifa. There are large Christian populations in both of these cities.
If you are in a city in Israel that do not have a large Christian population, you will notice that there are many decorations in preperation for the Jewish holiday of Chanukah. Street lamps have festive blue and gold lights and many cafes sell elaborate jelly-filled dougnuts.
No matter which holiday you celebrate (or even if you do not celebrate a holiday), the Holy Land is place filled with holiday spirit! To those celebrating, happy holidays!