Christmas Near Bethlehem: A Holy Night in a Holy City

Each Christmas Eve there is a big celebration at Manger Square in Bethlehem. Religious pilgrims come from far and near. Music fills the air. There are marching bands and choirs from all around the world playing and singing Christmas carols in their native languages. It is one big celebration culminating with a midnight mass in the Church of the Nativity.

My wife, Wendy, had hoped that while our family lived in Israel we would be able to participate in this traditional Christmas event. I, however, was not as enthusiastic. I hate big crowds, traffic jams and long lines.

My idea of a great Christmas Eve is a nice family dinner, a simple gift exchange, and children retiring to their beds early (the earlier, the better) with “visions of sugarplums” and Santa Claus dancing in their heads. But there was no way Wendy was going to let us spend Christmas Eve in our apartment. With Bethlehem only seven miles away, we were not going to miss out on the experience of being near Bethlehem (the operative word being near).

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