It may surprise you to find out that Christmas isn’t well-celebrated in Israel, and that December 25th is generally treated as just another day by the local people. You will, however, find plenty of other Christian pilgrims in the Holy Land around Christmas from various denominations. Many of them will be making the pilgrimage to The Church of the Nativity and the cave traditionally thought to be the actual birthplace of Jesus. Christmas in the Holy Land is a wonderful experience, and here are just some of the things you can expect when you go on pilgrimage.
Christmas is celebrated for a long time
Whilst the majority of people won’t be celebrating Christmas, Israel is home to a number of different Christian denominations, many of whom celebrate Christmas on different days. Catholics and Protestants will be celebrating on the 25th December, Greek, Syrian and orthodox Christians will be celebrating Christmas on the 6th January and the Armenian Church celebrates Christmas on January 18th.
Don’t expect a white Christmas
Here in England, we always look forward to (or fear!) a white Christmas, playing in the snow before Christmas dinner. When you reach the Holy Land, however, you will have warm and balmy weather to enjoy, allowing you to leave the thick coat at home and enjoy your pilgrimage.
Large Christmas trees
Despite the majority of local people not celebrating Christmas, you will find large Christmas trees in the cities of Jaffa, Haifa and Nazareth. Arizona Cypresses are distributed by the Keren Kayemeth Lelsrael-Jewish National Fund to monasteries, convents, embassies, local churches, foreign journalists and even members of the general public.
The Church of the Nativity
We may have mentioned it earlier, but The Church of the Nativity is probably the most important pilgrimage site in Israel, especially over the festive period. Mass and services are held in The Church of the Nativity on the 25th December, and the Church and nearby Manger Square are lit up with hundreds of lights.
You will be able to see various religious plays on the streets, and the Christmas parade features processions from the wide range of Christian denominations through the square in order to place a figure of the baby Jesus in the Church. There are also Christmas Eve masses you can attend at the church.
For more information about booking your pilgrimage to the Holy Land, please call us on 0161 839 1111 or send us a message online.