Bethlehem is a Palestinian city located in the central West Bank, neighboring south Jerusalem. It is the capital of the Bethlehem Govern-orate of Palestinian Authority. The economy is primarily tourist-driven. Bethlehem consists of people of different Christian denominations – Catholics, Protestants, Greek Orthodox, Ethiopians, Armenians and more. Bethlehem is the town where Jesus Christ is said to have been born. Naturally, Christmas here is a major event and the festival is celebrated in a grand manner.
Christmas Celebrations in Bethlehem :
In Bethlehem, Roman Catholic services begin on December 24 and take place in St. Catherine’s Church , a Catholic church adjacent to the Orthodox Basilica of the Nativity. Protestants hold their services in a different way. While some of them may attend special Christmas services in their local churches, others may arrange excursions for special services in the Shepherd’s Fields or the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
Some of the popular Jerusalem churches such as The Anglican Cathedral of St. George, the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer. Orthodox Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus by taking out numerous religious processions and holding special services mainly at the Basilica of the Nativity. Most Armenian Christmas services are also held in the Basilica, albeit a little later, on January 18. The Christmas processions usually pass through Manger Square, believed to be situated on the traditional site of Jesus’ birth.
On Christmas Eve, annual Christmas parade are there which is witnessed by residents and visitors of the town from crowd the doorways and the roof of the Basilica to get a view of the parade. Galloping horsemen and police mounted on Arabian horses lead the procession. The procession is led by galloping horsemen and police mounted over Arabian horses; followed by a man riding over a black steed and carrying a cross. After him comes the churchmen and government officials. The procession quietly enters the doors and puts an ancient effigy of the Holy Child in the Church. The visitors are then taken through deep winding stairs leading to a grotto where a silver star marks the site of the birth of Jesus.
Wishing all readers Merry Christmas 2019 & Happy New Year 2020 !!!