Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas in Israel

Christmas Eve has come and gone and now we've arrived at Christmas Day here in Israel. Largely, you won't see a single memento around town that notifies you that the Christmas holiday is here. Students are at school, employees are at work and there is no holiday break to be had. 

However, just minutes away in Bethlehem, you will find quite the opposite scene. It's Christmas at its epitome. Every year, some 90,000 people travel to Bethlehem locally and from around the world for the Christmas holiday and in particular for the Midnight Mass at the Church of the Nativity. Where can you get a more authentic Christmas experience than right there in Bethlehem?

Unfortunately for holders of Israeli passports, Bethlehem is off limits. It all has to do with the Arab-Israeli conflict. So, looks like I will never get to see Bethlehem in my lifetime. However, the images are worth 1,000 words.

Up north in Nazareth, Israel you will also find a Christmas scene taking place. Nazareth, believed to be the childhood home of Jesus, has more Christians per capita than any other city in Israel. I have been to Nazareth just once before and it was a very enriching cultural experience to see so many important sights in one small city. I can only imagine what it looks like during Christmastime. 

I can tell you that during the month of December, the city happenings in Nazareth are geared entirely toward Christmas. Beginning on December 15, 2011 they had the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at Mary's Well Square, right in the center of town. 


Following this main event,  Nazareth hosted a Christmas Market in town between December 15-18, 2011. This festive market included Christmas carolers, music, food and gifts. 



Next, a Christmas Concert hosted jointly by the Israeli Ministry of Tourism and the mayor of Nazareth is put on annually. 


Finally, on Christmas Eve you will find a parade taking over the streets of Nazareth with thousands of attendees, followed by fireworks and ending with Midnight Mass in the Basilica of the Annunciation. Today, on Christmas Day, you will find a plethora of different mass services to attend in honor of today's date.



And so now you know, if you ever find yourself in Israel for Christmas time, there is no shortage of authentic Christmas experiences for you to take part in from perhaps the very places where Christmas allegedly once began. One last option is in the heart of Jerusalem's Old City in the Christian Quarter where Christmas is celebrated every year in the Christian Quarter at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The options go on and on. After all, Israel is not only a place for Jewish people, it is also home to a handful of other religions all of which have roots of their religion right here in the small borders of Israel. Wherever you are celebrating, I wish to you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! 

* The majority of pictures and images from Nazareth are courtesy of Nazareth, The Magical City's facebook page, found here (click on this link) To see more beautiful images of Nazareth, please visit the above website!


  1. Nazareth was a wonderful stop in April - it must be phenomenal in December!

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  3. יש פה תמונה שלי שאת משתמשת בה בלי לקבל רשות ממני !! ובנוסף את חותכת את הלוגו !!!!, זה ממש לא בסדר
    נא ממך להוריד את את התמונה או לשים אותה במלואה
    לא רק התמונה שלי אלה כל התמונות בנצרת

    מדבור על התמונה של חג המולד בנצרת התמונה השניה עם העץ ,הזיקוקים והמראה מלמעלה

  4. Hi Caroline,
    My Hebrew is limited, so bear with me. I can see that you are upset about my usage of pictures from Nazareth. I have provided a link to the location where the photos were found, as I usually do when borrowing pictures from the Internet. This is a personal blog with no interest in promotion or financial gain, so I am not even sure how you came across my personal space. I found the Nazareth images publicly on the Nazareth, Magical City facebook page. I hope you will see that there is appropriate linkage back to the source and that I have not tried to claim these photos as my own. In fact, I clearly state that I was not in Nazareth for Christmas, and that I wish I could have been to see everything that is in these beautiful pictures. My readers are from home in San Diego and I think they enjoyed seeing them. If you would like me to remove any specific photos, please identify them.
    Thanks for stopping by!


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