Christmas in the Holy Land
Not sure what your Christmas plans are? Not sure where or whom to celebrate with? Not sure if Christmas is even a thing in Israel?
5 Things to Do in Israel During the Christmas Season
Christmas in Israel is a magical experience for all who wish to celebrate. Although it is less commercialized than in other places, Christmas is a special time in Israel for its historic significance as the land where the Christmas story took place. No matter where you are in this beautiful country, there is a Christmas celebration right around the corner.
Enjoy the Christmas Spirit in Bethlehem
It is no surprise that the city where Jesus was born transforms into a Winter Wonderland during the Christmas season. This is why Bethlehem is the perfect destination if you want to be surrounded by Christmas festivities. Christmas plays are performed, the streets are decorated with Christmas lights and happy visitors explore the annual Christmas market. The most meaningful to Bethlehem during this time are the religious events that take place, such as the Midnight Mass, keeping the traditions alive within the Holy Land. Most of these events pass through Manger Square which stands on the traditional site of Jesus’ birth. The Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony is also a sight to see as the plaza is filled with Christmas carols, a “community sing”, hot chocolate, cookies, and a visit from Santa Claus.
Shop at the Christmas Market in Nazareth
Even though most of the Christmas action takes place in Bethlehem and Jerusalem, the Arab Christian city of Nazareth also has some tricks up its sleeve when it comes to the Holiday season. Nazareth is Israel’s largest Arab city and is believed by Christians to be Jesus’ hometown. The locals, along with thousands of tourists who visit from near and far all come for one thing- the Christmas Market. The market will take place at Mary’s Well Square and the action usually begins in the early evening. The market consists of various stalls selling some local produce, arts and crafts, and entertainment for the whole family to enjoy. Some local singers and bands take the stage to share the Holiday cheer and there is even a Santa!
Take a Walk on the Nativity Trail
For those of you who prefer a more adventurous activity this Holiday season, try hiking portions of the 160 km route Nativity Trail! This trail is believed to be the same path walked by Mary and Joseph on their way to Bethlehem. The trail begins in Nazareth, where Jesus was conceived, all the way to Bethlehem, where he was born. Some of the Nativity Trail can only be accessed via tour operators as the path requires driving to different sites and crossing checkpoints. On the trail, you will pass many notable and historic spots including Mount Tabor, Nablus, Jericho, and more.
Head to the Galilee
The Western Galilee is home to a number of Christain Arab villages where you can expect to experience major Christmas vibes. The Winter Festival is a crowd favorite and takes place across the region so you’re in for a real treat. The festival includes various events such as culinary workshops, arts and crafts workshops, a concert combined with a tour, culinary tours, group-singing and storytelling evenings, music shows, festive dinners, nature and art tours, jeep tours and much more. One of the most popular events is the Galilean Christmas Run, so make sure to mark your calendars and enjoy!
Celebrate in Jerusalem
Of course, Jerusalem falls as one of the most memorable locations to celebrate during Christmastime. There is no holier place than Jerusalem. A spiritual center for all three major monotheistic faiths, it’s one of the most fascinating cities you’ll ever visit. The Old City is a great place to experience different cultures and traditions, with many sacred sites and churches to explore. There is no end to the amount of Christmas activities that take place in this incredible city including carols, concerts, Christmas markets, Christmas Mass, and Christmas Tours.