Christmas markets and concerts in Jerusalem, Nazareth, Haifa, Ramla and Tel Aviv embrace the true holiday spirit of tolerance and inclusion, attracting people of all religions to celebrate together.
Christmas in Israel means walking through the small streets of Jerusalem’s Old City, taking part in a Christmas parade, attending a Christmas church service, playing in the snow at Jaffa’s Winter Festival, and sampling traditional foods at one of the holiday markets.
Of course, many tourists will also want to visit the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, among many other destinations. Here are 5 cities you will want to visit if you will be in the Holy Land during the holidays.
Nazareth, the 2,000-year-old Galilee city that is home to Israel’s largest Christian-Arab community, knows how to throw a Christmas party. The municipality of Nazareth is holding its annual festive Christmas Market street fair with traditional foods, arts, and crafts.
Keep December 24 free on your calendar for the traditional parade through the main street of Nazareth. The 30,000-strong parade, which begins at 3:30 pm, makes its way to the plaza in front of the Basilica of the Annunciation. At 5:30 pm, the annual fireworks display (sponsored by the Tourism Ministry) will light up the sky. Christmas Mass begins at 7:00 pm in the Basilica.
The city’s other Catholic churches host services throughout the day on December 25.
Christmas festivities in the capital city of Israel include Midnight Mass, carol concerts, market shopping, and holiday-themed tours.
The Jerusalem International YMCA is hosting a variety of events this year including a Christmas Festival, featuring Christmas crafts for sale, snow machines, music, a giant Christmas tree, and workshops for children. The YMCA will also host a Christmas Carols Concert on December 24th at 8 pm.
While not as elaborately shiny as other cities around the world, Jerusalem’s many churches and monasteries in the Old City get in the holiday spirit and deck out their entrances with boughs of holly. The main streets leading to the city of Bethlehem from Jerusalem are also adorned with decorations, including green, red, and white lights.
Armenian Christmas will be celebrated January 18 in the Old City with a traditional parade and church services.
Tel Aviv is hosting a Winter Festival in Jaffa on December 24th at Beit Romano. The municipality of Tel Aviv-Yafo is also hosting free tours, in English, of Old Jaffa, Sarona Market area, and the White City.
There will be a Viennese Christmas Ball with the music of Mozart, Haydan, Strauss, and Offenback at the Armenian church of St Nicholas in Jaffa on December 16th & 30th at 8:30 pm.
The city best known for coexistence among its residents hosts its 23rd annual Holiday of Holidays festival. The event takes place on consecutive weekends (December 3-31, 2016) in the Wadi Nisnas neighborhood and the German Colony district. Traditional foods, an antique fair, crafts fair, and liturgical music concerts are all part of this holiday celebration.
The town of Ramla, not to be mistaken with Ramallah in the Palestinian Authority area, is another of Israel’s centers of multiculturalism. Ramla’s population is a mix of Jews, Christians, and Muslims, being home to many churches, mosques, and synagogues. The towns outdoor market is one of the country’s largest, and during the month of December, you will find all sorts of Christmas items for sale. Visitors to Ramla can take a look back at Christian history in the Holy Land. There has been a Christian presence in this town at least since the 12th century, being considered the traditional location of Rama, the hometown of Joseph of Aramathea.
Originially posted at Israel21c.