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Christmas in Israel

Quick Overview

Sometimes people ask us what are the options for when you want to celebrate Christmas in the Holy Land. You should know that if you're dreaming of a white Christmas it ain't likely to happen if you celebrate it in Israel. Besides that, celebrating Christmas in the Holy Land can give you memories for life.

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Celebrating Christmas in Israel

To celebrate Christmas in the Holy Land has many benefits: you get to celebrate Jesus' birth in the place where he actually was born and raised. You get away from the stress of the holiday (which some suffer from, but not everyone) and can focus on the real meaning of Christmas, without the commercialism that is running rampant today.

The drawbacks are obvious as well; you can't for instance celebrate it with your family unless they all come with you. You don't get to see any snow and the traditions that you're used to will simply not be easily replicated in the Holy Land.

So if you decide, despite everything, that you want to celebrate Christmas in the Holy Land, here are some options for you below.

Christmas in Jerusalem

You can book a nice hotel in Jerusalem and then find a restaurant that is catering to Christians especially. You do want to plan this well ahead of time as Jerusalem is a popular destination for Christians during Christmas. If you're in Jerusalem you can go on guided tours and explore the Churches and other holy sites in Christianity, that relate to Jesus' life. Some of the obvious options are of course the Via Dolorosa and the Stations of the Cross, the Garden of Gethemane and various churches, such as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Pater Noster Church, the Church of St. Anne and others.

For the Midnight Mass in Jerusalem you can visit the Christ Church in Jerusalem (Anglican), or find something suited to your religious views.

Christmas in Bethlehem

Of course, Jerusalem is more related to the Easter holidays, and so you might actually want to go to Bethlehem where Jesus was born. In Bethlehem there are lots of restaurants catering to Christians and you will find a lot more signs of the holiday there than in pre-dominantly Jewish and Muslim Jerusalem. Furthermore, you have the option of at least watching the Midnight Mass on screen, outside the Church of the Nativity. Don't expect to get a seat inside as it's likely going to be crammed with people. To get a seat you really have to plan ahead of time and perhaps have connections at the Church. Assuming that you're not a foreign dignitary the latter might not be practically feasible.

Another option, that combines the above, is to go on a tour that includes both spending Christmas eve in Jerusalem and watching the Midnight Mass in Bethlehem on screen.

Conclusion

Spending Christmas in the Holy Land is increasingly popular among Christians all over the world. The benefits are clear; that you get to spend time in the Holy Land and visit the places that relate to Jesus' birth and/or life. The drawbacks are also plain; that you might not be able to celebrate it with your family and that if you want a traditional Christmas you are less likely to experience it in Israel. The main destinations in the Holy Land for Christmas are naturally Bethlehem and Jerusalem, both strongly connected to the life of Jesus. As a last thought, you can celebrate Christmas every year with family and friends, but celebrating it in Israel could be done once and give you memories that will last for a life-time.

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