Christmas in the Holy Land is probably not quite what you expected. As this is Jesus' place of birth, you will be forgiven for thinking that there will be a real razzmattazz, and somewhere, the best purr of a Christmas party. Well, you might be disappointed.
Just walk through the streets of Tel Aviv or Jerusalem or any other big city in December and you may feel that you are missing something. OK, so Jews usually do not celebrate Christmas, but there is something very strange to do in a mall in December, with no sign of tinsel or reindeer. And maybe that's not a bad thing …
But if you really want to get a sense of Christmas, then you'll have to spend a day in Bethlehem, especially on Christmas Eve. It's very easy to get there these days, although we strongly recommend that you run an organized bus there to negotiate at least security checkpoints on your behalf. Once there, just sing Christmas carols at the Place Manger and visit the Church of the Nativity. This is, of course, where Jesus was born, and the contrast with the Christmas holidays makes him even more special. Next to the altar, in a winding staircase, is the cave where Jesus was born. A silver star on the ground marks the place, and yes, it can be very moving, especially by observing the power of the moment over the other more believers.
Whatever your belief, you will surely find something to enjoy in Bethlehem on Christmas Eve, as there are many services and processes, including Catholic, Protestant, Greek Orthodox, Ethiopian, Armenian and others. For the more touristy of us, I believe you can still get a Christmas stamp at the post office next to Eating Square. Nice to have and show friends / family at home.
Another place to visit at Christmas is Nazareth, another Arab-Israeli city, filled with plastic Christmas fathers and a wide variety of artificial Christmas trees. This is probably the only place in Israel where you will feel at home. You can also get Christmas decorations in South Tel Aviv (around the central bus station), if you really need to decorate your Christmas hotel or your hotel room.
If you plan to stay in Tel Aviv during Christmas, instead of traveling to Bethlehem, you can always check out the midnight mass in Jaffa before going to the MASH Bar or Mike's Place for a true festive spirit. of the wet and alcoholic kind. You could even find some stolen material …
If you do not go to Bethlehem, Nazareth or the midnight mass in Jaffa, there are always groups of English-speaking expatriates who celebrate at their way. It's not quite the same as at home, but for a few hours at least, you should be able to feel a little festive. Wherever you are, we hope you will have a fantastic Christmas in the Holy Land!