In the land Jesus was born on, pilgrims from all over the world come to celebrate. Surely Christmas is a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world, but Christmas in Bethlehem has another taste!
Similar to Europe and North-America, people start preparing a month before. Houses and streets are decorated with Christmas lights in time for the big celebration. Christmas markets are held and plays are performed.
What makes Christmas in Bethlehem extra special are the most important religious events that are held to keep the traditions of the Holy Land. Christians from all sects – Roman Catholics, Protestants, Armenian, Greek, Syrian and other Orthodox – celebrate on three different days. Roman Catholics and Protestants celebrate on December 25th; Greek, Syrian and other Orthodox celebrate on January 7th; and Armenian Christians celebrate Christmas on January 18.
Every year, at the beginning of December, a big Christmas tree is set up and lit after a count down. Everyone in the city and from all around the world join together to witness this event. This countdown represents the beginning of a blessed month for all Christians. Photographer and Filmmaker, Rashed Wadi, captured the most important of these Christmas preparations; the lighting of the tree, which took place on the 4th of December, at Manger Square in Bethlehem.
This year, the tree was listed on Huffington Post’s most breathtaking Christmas tree worldwide list, along with Ramallah’s tree!
On this day, Christians, Muslims and Jews join together and celebrate the amazing events held at the Courtyard of the Nativity Church. What can be more spiritual than the three monotheistic religions celebrating the birth of Jesus in the Holy Land itself?
So, if you ever want to experience the Merriest of Christmases, then Bethlehem is the place!
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