Israel is a hotspot for pilgrims and tourists alike all year long. Christmas in Israel is a holy, exhilarating and a wholesome experience, which many people around the world crave.This is why the country gets return visits from many of the tourists. The holy land has a lot to offer to its tourists, with something for every kind of traveller. With a booming tourism during December and January, the tourists also get a chance to mingle with locals, as well as people from all over the globe.
8 Best Things To Do During Christmas In Israel
Israel may not be a big country, but it has so many things to offer to its visitors, that it becomes a doozy deciding what to do and where to visit. We bring you a list of 8 best things to do during Christmas in Israel. Take a look:
1. Bethlehem: Recite holy songs
This one’s a no-brainer. The holiest of the holy places for Christians around the world, Bethlehem is the most visited spot in Israel by a long stretch. The birthplace of Jesus Christ, the city of Bethlehem doesn’t fall under the control of Israel, but the Palestinian National Authority. This doesn’t mean that the place is hard to reach though. It is one of the most popular Christmas in Israel traditions to take a walk from Jerusalem to Bethlehem during Christmas, reciting holy songs and turning yourselves into the spirit of Christmas. It hardly takes two hours on foot or 20 minutes by bus, and all you require is your passport and you are good to go.
2. Nazareth: Visit the Greek Orthodox Church
What better place to visit during Christmas than the hometown of Jesus Christ? Nazareth has been for a long time one of the most visited spots in Israel. The whole city is lit up Christmas decorations and the town is always in festive spirit. The town has many things to do around Christmas like the all-day Christmas market, where you can buy many local goodies and souvenirs for yourself. For hardcore shoppers, there’s the BIG mall the entrance of the Christmas market. Apart from that, you can witness the lighting of the Christmas tree at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, which is another one of the Christmas in Israel traditions. Then, there are the Christmas masses that run all day long during the day of Christmas, but the main attraction is the midnight mass in the Basilica of the Annunciation.
3. Israel: Hog on street food
Have you really fulfilled your trip in the middle east without having a taste of the local street food? During Christmas time, all of the food vendors and restaurants come out with their best food to offer their visitors, with delicacies ranging from Mughlai to Afghani to Indian.Christmas in Israel food is the best of the best country offers to its visitors. The most famous dish is Hummus, served with hot pita bread, which is the speciality of every local food vendor around the country. Falafels are also a famous street food which the country’s vendors have their own take on. Tahini is the best of them all though. You’ll find that this is a local favourite dish and is a speciality dish of Israel. Every city in Israel has an amazing street food culture and it is something that they are very proud of. During Christmas, you will find that there’s more crowds on street vendor’s shops than in restaurants.
4. Haifa: Celebrate multiple festive holidays
Haifa is famously known for celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah and Eid-al-Adha. It is truly one of the most unique experiences during Christmas in Israel and has become the biggest attraction of the city. All the people in the Jewish, Christian and Moslem community come together in harmony and celebrate their festivals. The activities happening here during the Holiday of Holidays Festival symbolizes the mutual respect between all of the six religions in the city. The activities include a circus, music from all ethnicities in the city, art fairs authentic local delicacies prepared by the people of Wadi Nisna and much more.
5. Jerusalem: Take a stroll through its streets
Closest city to Bethlehem, Jerusalem is also a great choice to spend your Christmas at. YMCA organises a lot of services for the people, with celebrations a carol singing in full gears. Some other churches participate in that too, making it a very diverse affair to witness. But the most important thing to do in Jerusalem during Christmas is visiting Rachel’s tomb. You cannot enter the tomb from Bethlehem, but the Israeli side in Jerusalem allows entry through a fortress. Apart from these things, you can also spend your time here shopping for some amazing woodwork in the local market. There are a lot of local wood carvers, who make some amazing pieces of work out of olive wood carving which make for amazing souvenirs to take away from here.
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6. Tel Aviv-Jaffa: Take a tour
To get yourself a diverse Christmas experience, head to Tel Aviv in Israel. The Old City of Jaffa is known to host the most diverse crowds during Christmas in Israel. The Christmas isn’t like in any other place in the country, with the city going bonkers with its festivities. There are many things to do around the city, which is all covered with Hanukkah Menorahs and Christmas trees. There is the Night Light Festival, with amazing light shows, live performances, fireworks, art presentations and much more. Then, there are Winter Opera Performances from local artists, which attracts a big crowd. There’s also the lighting of the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Christmas tree, which is a surreal sight to behold in front of your eyes.
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7. Galilee: Attend the winter festival
Want to have a Christmas marked by non-stop drinking and stuffing yourselves with food? Galilee is the place for you. The small villages in Western Galilee has so many things to offer its visitors during their Winter Festival, it almost seems unreal. The Winter Festival, running from 20th December to 22nd December, attracts a big crowd. The main attraction in this festival is the famous Galilean Christmas run, which aims to bring sports and cultural causes together. People from all over the country come to participate in it for a run on an amazing track through the mystical alleys of Mi’ilya. Apart from this, the villages also have live concerts, culinary tours, carolling, group singing and storytelling sessions with locals, and much more. Galilee may not be a top spot on the list of travellers, but it embodies the Christmas spirit better than anyplace else in Israel.
8. Israel: Pass Christmas Greetings
This is perhaps one of the coolest things around to do during Christmas in Israel. The families and tourists here can go home to home to give Christmas greetings to them and in return, get a glass of liquor or some candy. This tradition has been running in Israel for a very long time and while initially it was just done by local families, nowadays the tourists have begun to indulge in it too. This gives the visitors an amazing chance to mingle with the locals and get a taste of the country’s culture too. You can also see people dressed up as Santa knocking on the doors for donations for the various national charities run by the government of Israel.
These 8 activities truly makes spending Christmas in Israel worthwhile. Spending your Christmas Eve in Israel is truly the best holiday present you can give yourselves. As a matter of fact, Israel is the most visited country in the world around this time. It should not come as a surprise as it is the holiest country for the Christians around the world. Pack your bags, book your tickets for Israel and take a hard look at this list to gift yourself a much needed break this festive season.
Frequently Asked Questions About Christmas In Israel
A. The Best Experiences To Have In Israel In December:
1. Experience Hanukkah.
2. Go skiing at Mt. Hermon.
3. Experience the nightlife in Tel Aviv.
4. Enjoy Hamshushalayim.
5. Explore the mountain fortress in Masada.
6. Party on New Year’s Eve.
7. Dance away your blues.
8. Check out the Hullegeb Israeli-Ethiopian festival.
A. During December, January and February, Israel can be cold and rainy, but it can also be warm and sunny.
A. In Hebrew Happy/Merry Christmas is ‘Chag Molad Sameach’ (חג מולד שמח) which means ‘Happy festival of the Birth’.
A. The city, in particular, the Old City’s Christian and Armenian quarters, become adorned with decorations, while other Jerusalem landmarks such as the YMCA, along with the city’s churches celebrate with services and carol concerts.
A. The best time to travel to Israel is late February through March. The weather is fantastic, the prices are low and the biggest bonus of them all – the entire country is blooming after the winter rains.
A. The winter months of November to March are the coldest in Israel with snow in the northern reaches of the Golan Heights, and occasional snowfall in Jerusalem.
A. Roman Catholics and Protestants celebrate on December 25, Orthodox Christians celebrate on January 6, and Armenian Christians celebrate on January 18.
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