Christmas is very important in the Palestinian territory of the West Bank as it contains Bethlehem, the town in which Jesus was born. Bethlehem is about six miles (10 kilometers) south of Jerusalem (which is in Israel). Bethlehem means ‘house of bread’ and back in history was famous for growing wheat which was made into bread.
On Christmas Eve there is a parade through the town. This is very important to the Christian part of the population. There are bagpipe bands in the parade, which you might not expect! Playing the bagpipes is a tradition left over from when the British army occupied the area between 1920 and 1948. People also dress up as Santa Claus and give out sweets. The streets and main square are decorated with lights.
The Greek Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic Churches don’t celebrate Christmas on December 25th, but rather January 6th & 7th. They hold services on those days.
Perhaps the most famous part of Christmas in Bethlehem is the church service of the Mass of the Nativity. It is held on Christmas Eve afternoon/evening/midnight in the Church of the Nativity. The Church is built over the place where it’s traditionally thought that Jesus was born. There’s a small door into the Church called the door of humility. The church was built, by the romans, about 500 years after Jesus was born. The most holy part of the church is the Grotto of the Nativity, which is under the main altar. A silver star marks the place where Jesus was meant to have been born.Return to Warm Wishes From Around the World