Experience Christmas in the Holy Land
Christmas in the Holy Land is unlike Christmas anywhere else in the world. Experiencing Christmas in the Holy Land includes very special opportunities such as a walk through the ancient streets of Jerusalem, taking part in traditional Christmas parades, attending Christmas Mass, or frolicking in the snow at the Jaffa Winter Festival.
Not an Everyday Occurrence
Pilgrimages to the Holy Land during Christmas are a unique and special travel experience. “Visiting Bethlehem at Christmastime gives the pilgrim an opportunity to see how the local Christians celebrate Christmas. There may be an opportunity to listen to a visiting choir sing Christmas hymns. They will see how Manger Square is decorated for Christmas,” explains Fr. David Wathen, O.F.M.,Director of the Franciscan Monastery Pilgrimage Office in Washington, D.C.
Here are five must-see sites and festive activities you can include to enhance your Christmas in the Holy Land celebration:
#1 Spend time in Nazareth, where Jesus grew up
The 2,000-year-old home of Jesus Christ is the modern day home to Israel’s largest Christian Arab community. A highlight of the Christmas festivities, Nazareth holds a Christmas Market Street Fair filled with vendors offering a variety of food, art, and crafts. Another must-see event is the annual parade held on December 24 along the main street of Nazareth. Typically involving about 30,000 participants, the parade ends in front of the Basilica of the Annunciation. Following the parade, there is a fireworks display and Mass celebrated at the Basilica.
# 2 Visit Bethlehem, the place of Jesus’ birth
No experience can ever surpass that of being in Bethlehem during the Christmas celebration. The opportunity to be standing in the birthplace of Christ and to touch the very spot where he was born within the Church of the Nativity is one travelers treasure their entire lives.
Photo Credit: Marie-Armelle Beaulieu/CTS
#3 Renew your Baptismal Vows in the Jordan River
While celebrating the birth of Jesus, mark your own birth in the faith by renewing your baptismal vows in the Jordan River. Many Christians take the opportunity to rededicate themselves in the waters where John the Baptist baptized Jesus. Christmas is an especially wonderful season to do the same.
#4 Celebrate in Jerusalem
Christmas festivities held within the city of Jerusalem abound throughout the Christmas season. These include Midnight Mass, prayer services at various churches, and seasonally themed tours. Spending Christmas Day in the Old City is an especially moving time to honor the birth of the Son of God.
Photo Credit: Enrique Bermejo/CTS
#5 See Christmas trees in the Holy Land
Traditional Christmas trees have been used during the Christmas season for hundreds of years. Numerous trees are decorated throughout the Holy Land and can be seen in Bethlehem, Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv. Fun fact: Israel is the only country in the world that had more trees at the end of the 20th century than at the beginning of it.
Make Christmas 2018 One You Will Never Forget
Christmas in the Holy Land can be an incredibly meaningful experience for all ages. Ensure this Christmas will be an unforgettable one for you and your family by signing up today for the upcoming December 18 – 27, 2018, Christmas Pilgrimage to the Holy Land with the Franciscan friars of the Holy Land. Imagine the amazing memories that can be created at this most magical time of the year when you are guided by friars with over 800 years of experience leading pilgrimages to the Holy Land!