Christmas festivities begin in West Bank town of Bethlehem

Christian worshippers light candles at the Church of the Nativity, traditionally recognized by Christians to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ, in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018. Christians around the world will celebrate Christmas on Monday. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

Palestinians are preparing to host pilgrims from around the world in celebrating Christmas in the West Bank city of Bethlehem.

Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the top Roman Catholic cleric in the Holy Land, crossed an Israeli military checkpoint from Jerusalem on Monday ahead of midnight Mass at the Church of the Nativity, the traditional birthplace of Jesus.

Advertisement

Hundreds of locals and foreign visitors gathered in Manger Square as bagpipe-playing Palestinian Scouts paraded past a giant Christmas tree.

ap
A Christian worshipper prays at the Grotto, under the Church of the Nativity, traditionally recognized by Christians to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ, in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018. Christians around the world will celebrate Christmas on Monday. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

Palestinian Tourism Minister Rula Maaya says "the whole world is looking toward Bethlehem" and the Palestinians are ready to host them.

The Christmas festivities traditionally bring a boost of holiday cheer to Christians in the Holy Land, who make up just a small percentage of the local population.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Tim Werner
5 months 3 weeks ago

Oh my God!
How much I love Christmas holidays!

Emma Roe
5 months 3 weeks ago

Here is some interesting info about the unique schools!

Advertisement
More: Christmas

The latest from america

It is tempting to want to change the words of the 2011 Roman Missal. But we shouldn't—part of the point of ritual is its seeming changelessness.
Terrance KleinJune 17, 2019
The site of Clemens Field baseball stadium in Hannibal, Mo., near the Mississippi River, on May 31.  (Jake Shane/Quincy Herald-Whig via AP)
This spring’s floods devastated farming and rural communities in the middle of the U.S. that were already struggling with economic and social decline, writes Nathan Beacom. But ”blue” America may find it difficult to sympathize.
Nathan BeacomJune 17, 2019
Augustinian Father Miguel Angel Cadenas baptizes a young man June 12, in a village along the Urituyacu River in Peru.
While this proposal may draw most media attention, it should not be allowed to eclipse other significant aspects in the document, including the church’s strong commitment to work for justice for indigenous people and the protection of the environment.
Gerard O’ConnellJune 17, 2019
On June 17, 2015, a 23-year-old white supremacist killed nine African-Americans during a Bible study at the historic Emanuel A.M.E. Church.
John AndersonJune 14, 2019