Celebrating Christmas in Israel is a truly magical experience unlike anywhere else in the world. Whilst there may be no snow, it is the perfect place to focus on the spiritual meaning of the holiday and celebrate the story of Christmas in a whole new way. This is where it all took place! Christmas in Israel may be very different from how you celebrate at home as it is far less commercialized. Keep reading for a quick rundown on how you can monumentalize this amazing and majestic holiday.
“Two Bethlehems: Yes Two Bethlehems”
Bethlehem is the place to be for Christmas in Israel, but did you know that there was more than one?! While the Bethlehem in Judea is the home of the Church of the Nativity, which is believed to be Jesus’ birthplace.But some scholars claim that Bethlehem of the Galilee, located just outside of Nazareth might actually be the place where Jesus was born. The city of Bethlehem celebrates Christmas for nearly two months as different denominations mark the holiday on different dates. On Christmas Eve there is the famous midnight Mass service held in the Church of St. Catherine, the Catholic section of the Church of the Nativity, on Manger Square. In contrast, Bethlehem of the Galilee is a quaint little town, with picturesque streets that remind you of a quaint European hidden city. Though there are no official Christmas events held in town, it is a beautiful place to visit and have a lazy lunch after or before your visit to Nazareth. And just think about telling everyone back home you visited TWO Bethlehems!
“Missing A Traditional Christmas–Nazareth Is For You”
Are you missing your traditional Santa and Christmas tree decorations? Then this is perhaps the best place to come for a real “American” Christmas, especially if you’re missing your Christmas tree decorations. The city goes all out decorating their Christmas trees, putting on their Santa suits and celebrating the birth of Jesus with a vast array of parties and festivities all over town. There is also a traditional Christmas Market, where you can buy gifts and decorations and several days before Christmas there is the annual lighting of the Christmas tree around the Greek Orthodox Church. While on Christmas Eve the traditional parade Christmas parade passes through the city; which ends at the square in front of the Basilica with a display of fireworks.Last but not least why not end Christmas with a traditional Catholic Mass.
“Share The Joy In Jerusalem”
There is no better way to celebrate Christmas than in the in the spiritual center and the capital city of Israel? A holy city for all three monotheistic faiths, Jerusalem offers many options to commemorate Christmas. While in Jerusalem you definitely want to check out the Old City and of course the Christian Quarter. While not as elaborately shiny as other cities around the world, Jerusalem’s many churches and monasteries in the Old City and Ein Karem neighborhood get in the holiday spirit and deck out their entrances with boughs of holly. The main streets leading to the city of Bethlehem from Jerusalem are also adorned with decorations and green, red and white lights.
The city also boasts an annual Christmas Market and you can finish your tour of the old city while taking in the beautiful, historical and spiritual Churches and holy sites along the way. If you just want to loosen your tie you can check out the bars in the city center area – most of them will host parties on Christmas Eve.
Without a doubt, the place to be this festive season in Israel, the place where the true story of Christmas unfolds before your eyes. I want to wish you all a festive holiday! If you think of another place to celebrate please comment and share.
I look forward to hearing from you!