THE BEST PLACE TO CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS
With a lot of emphasis being put on gifts and overindulgence during the Christmas, you might want to pack and head out for a real refresher course on the true meaning of Christmas. What better place to do it than at the real birthplace of Jesus; Bethlehem city.
The capital of the Bethlehem governorate, Bethlehem city is located in west bank, about 8km from Jerusalem. With a population of 30,000 people, the population has immensely shrunk due to emigration. It is identified in the new testament of the bible as the birth place of Jesus.
Even though the rest of the world celebrates Christmas on December 25th, Bethlehem celebrates the rites of Christmas on three different dates. Catholic and protestant denominations celebrate it on the traditional December 25th but the Greek, Syrian and Coptic orthodox Christians hold the event on January 6th.On the other hand, Armenian orthodox Christians celebrate their Christmas on January 18th.this means that Bethlehem has one of the longest Christmas celebrations in the world, starting from December 25th right through January 18th.
The famous St. Catherine’s church is where the Roman Catholics congregate for the midnight mass service on Christmas day while the Protestants do the same at the shepherds’ fields. Outside the basilica of nativity is the manger square where most Christians pass through during their processions.
Christmas lights in the streets, a Christmas market and Christmas being performed all go to show just how Christmas is a major event in this city. You don’t want to miss the Christmas city village in the city that is rich in celebrations and traditions. This is simply a family-friendly event that was purposely designed to take advantage of the strong Christian traditions of the city. What with the presence of 1,000,000 visitors every year during the Christmas period. Here you will find everything from handmade dolls and fresh wreaths to jewelry and wood carvings.
The food here is totally mouthwatering and it is not uncommon, during this period to find meals like turkey which is marinated in cinnamon and pepper and stuffed with meat, rice and almonds. The kids will have fun opening their gifts on 25th before going to church for the service and to greet each other. The catholic priests will bless families with water and families then take a sip.
For the Greek orthodox, there will be a special service on the 6th where the cross will be dipped in water after which families are blessed with it. They then take this water with them home and each family member takes three sips before taking anything else.