Christmas in Israel

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The celebration of Hanukkah falls roughly during the same time frame as Christmas, however with formidable focus on religious independence, Jewish Israelis don't commemorate Christmas. Jewish Israelis take pleasure in a celebration comparable to Christmas but don't follow many traditions, for example the exchange of gifts. There exists a minority of Christian Israeli Arabs who do celebrate Christmas. Given the diversity of denominations among Christian Israeli Arabs, some celebrate with the Western Churches on the Gregorian 25 December, and others with the Eastern Churches on the Gregorian 7 January (Julian 25 December).

To most Israelis Christmas day is just an ordinary day, They do not have many of the traditional decorations up such as trees, lights and ornaments.

But in the city of Bethlehem, Christmas is celebrated with fervor. It is the birthplace of Christ, and many Christians live here, the streets are lit with Christmas lights, and the various Christians celebrate with parades through the town. Bethlehem is filled with holy places that are the focus of the Christmas celebrations.

The city where Jesus was born, Bethlehem holds major events. As one may presume, Christmas in Bethlehem, similar to American and British celebrations, the streets are hung with lights and there are lots of decorations and festivities.

Events that are more religious, are special to Bethlehem, maintaining true with all the traditions of the Holy Land. These consist of various processions and services led by a variety of Christian believers, such as Ethiopian, Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Protestant, Armenian and others.

Nine days before Christmas the festivities begin with songs and prayers. On Christmas Eve, the Patriarch of Jerusalem makes a traditional procession through Bethlehem and the loyal loiter in Manger Square, also the Church of the Nativity at midnight to celebrate the birth of Jesus. They are joined by pilgrims. Traditionally arriving in the hundreds of thousands, the numbers of pilgrims have lessened to the tens of thousands in recent years. Palestinian families often celebrate Christmas with traditionally festivities such as carols, gift-giving and meals of roast lamb, nougat sweets made with sesame seeds, a hot, sweet drink of rosewater, nuts, semolina pancakes stuffed with nuts, cheese and roasted chestnuts.