It is already December and the little town of Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ, is getting ready for the most important celebration. Christmas lights and banners are hoisted all around the city. Christmas carols can be heard everywhere in the crowded Manger Square.
The whole city shares in the traditional procession of the Patriarch. There are actually three Christmas celebrations: the Catholics celebrate it on December 25th after the Gregorian calendar; the Orthodox celebrate it on January 7th after the older Julian calendar; and the Armenian Orthodox celebrate it on January 19th.
Among the exciting aspects of Bethlehem Christmas are the parades of the Palestinian scouts along the streets of the city. They assemble in Manger Square to greet each of the Patriarchs on his arrival from Jerusalem. Some start from Rachel’s Tomb and march to Manger Square along Star Street. This is the route which is followed every Christmas Eve by the clergy of Jerusalem, led by the Patriarch, as they march in a solemn procession to the historic Church of the Nativity. The climax of Christmas Eve for the Roman Catholics is the elaborate Midnight Mass which is attended by dignitaries and diplomats. Other churches have their own special services in Bethlehem. In the evening, crowds gather in Manger Square to listen to various choirs and orchestras presenting Christmas carols.
Christmas procession (24 Dec.)
Choirs of the World on Manger Square (24 Dec. 20:00)
The Feast of the Shepherds
This feast held in Beit Sahour which is approximately one kilometer east of Bethlehem.
It is the place where the Shepherds heard the angelic proclamation “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men of good will” (Lk 2:14).
The procession, which starts at the Shepherds’ Field in Beit Sahour and ends in Manger Square, re-enacts the Shepherds’ trip to Bethlehem to venerate the newborn Jesus. This is the place where the angels appeared to the Shepherds and announced the birth of Jesus. In this cave, the Shepherds lived and were later buried in.
The Catholics celebrate the Feast of the Shepherds on December 25th. The faithful present their votive offerings and light candles after the Christmas prayers. The Greek Orthodox do the same on January 27th.
Post by Custodia.org Blog
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