Arabic News

Bethlehem prepares for ‘distinguished’ celebration of Christmas

Bethlehem was preparing for a “distinguished” celebration of Christmas next month with tens of thousands of visitors from around the world expected to descend on the city, officials said.

The central West Bank city is of special religious and historical importance to Christians, and Bethlehem Municipality, and the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Tourism, have this year launched Christmas activities under the title, “From Bethlehem to the World: The spirit of Christmas Brings us Together.”

Bethlehem Mayor Hanna Hanania said: “All the eyes of the world are currently turning toward Bethlehem in preparation to mark the birth of the child Jesus.”

He pointed out that despite current world crises the event offered an opportunity to unite faithful and peace-loving people and promote freedom and dignity for all.

And by making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Hanania noted that visitors were showing their support for the Palestinian presence.

The civic leader told Arab News that the municipality had started gearing up for this year’s Christmas festivities four months ago.

The occasion coincides with the 150th anniversary of the establishment of Bethlehem Municipality and the 10th anniversary of the inclusion of the Church of the Nativity on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

He said: “Bethlehem wears a new suit of joy, and hope has returned to the hearts of the city’s citizens after a long absence, and we look forward to a distinguished Christmas this year.

“Bethlehem and the Holy Land are in dire need of the blessing of peace that does not come at any price, as its highest price is justice, as peace cannot be achieved without justice and love among people.”

He added that the municipality’s aim had been to organize special Christmas celebrations in an atmosphere of joy, starting with a tree lighting ceremony on Dec. 3, Christmas market, and other related activities at the Bethlehem Peace Center and throughout the city.