Israel has many sites and cities with religious significance to Christianity, including Nazareth, Bethlehem, and Jerusalem. There are many ways to celebrate Christmas in Israel that are unique from anywhere else in the world. Because of this, people visit Israel from all over the world during the Christmas season to experience these special and meaningful celebrations.
Interested in celebrating Christmas in Israel? Here’s everything you need to know.
Why Celebrate Christmas in Israel?
While only a small percentage of people who live in Israel identify as Christians, there are plenty of reasons why celebrating Christmas in Israel is a worthwhile and unique experience. Firstly, Israel is the birthplace of Christianity, and there are many places in Israel that are significant to the life of Jesus Christ. It is believed that Jesus Christ was born in the city of Bethlehem, grew up in Nazareth, and died in Jerusalem. While these places are often visited by Christian pilgrims all year long, during Christmas time they’re particularly special. Today, people choosing to celebrate Christmas in Israel can visit these three cities and several other places. They can expect to experience a unique and truly special Christmas celebration.
Where To Celebrate Christmas In Israel?
Here are some of the best places to celebrate Christmas in Israel, and what you can expect to find there during Christmastime.
Known as the birthplace of Jesus Christ, Nazareth today is often visited by Christian pilgrims. It is also notably the largest Arab city in Israel today. During Christmastime in the Old City of Nazareth, you can expect to see plenty of Christmas lights around, along with other Christmas decor. There’s also typically a tree lighting ceremony, a Christmas parade, and a Christmas Market in the days leading up to Christmas. During Christmas Eve, there is also traditionally a midnight mass at Basilica of the Annunciation, which was built over the cave where it is believed that Mary found out she would become the mother of Jesus. During Christmas day itself, the churches in Nazareth all have a mass.
When visiting Nazareth, our Fauzi Azar Inn is located in the heart of the Old City. The 200-year-old building has a stunning courtyard, and it offers an authentic Nazareth experience. There are also a variety of rooms available, perfect for everyone from solo travelers to families. For a full video guide of our Fauzi Azar Inn in Nazareth, click here.
Located in the West Bank, Bethlehem is another city often cited in Christianity. In Bethlehem, people celebrate an extremely festive and memorable Christmas in Israel. The Church of the Nativity is one of the most significant places in Christianity, believed to be where Jesus was born. It is a huge complex divided between the different Christian sects, and you can see the chapels of the Roman Catholics, the Greek Orthodox and the Armenian Apostolics. In the center of town you’ll find Manger Square, which is named after the “manger” where baby Jesus was laid after he was born. You can additionally find the Milk Grotto, another significant chapel in Christianity.
Visiting these places during Christmas in Israel is a special affair. There is a massive Christmas tree and plenty of lights, and even Christmas songs played in the streets. On Christmas Eve, there is a Midnight Mass broadcast in Manger Square outside the Basilica (getting inside is for those holding invitations). Those celebrating Christmas in Israel might also visit Beit Sahour near the Shepherds Fields.
If you’re looking to experience the best of Christmas in Bethlehem, Abraham Tours runs a full Bethlehem Christmas Eve tour. Leaving bright and early, this tour takes you to all of the key sites in Bethlehem in one day. If you’d like to experience midnight mass in Bethlehem, Abraham Tours also offers transport to Bethlehem.
Jerusalem is arguably the holiest city in the world. There are plenty of significant Christian sites. The Old City of Jerusalem is divided into four quarters, and in the Christian Quarter you’ll find the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which holds many sites that Christians believe are notable in the life of Jesus Christ. Christians often was the Via Dolorosa, which represents the path Jesus would have taken when he walked to his crucifixion. During Christmas, you can see many pilgrims walking this path. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre also holds Christmas services. You might also find Christmas markets and concerts popping up all over the city during Christmastime.
When visiting Jerusalem to celebrate Christmas in Israel, you’ll find that our Abraham Jerusalem is an excellent place to spend the holiday. Located a brief walk or speedy tram ride from the Old City, our hostel is the perfect place to stay when you visit Jerusalem. Solo travelers and backpackers love our dorm rooms, while families enjoy our larger private family rooms. With nightly events, a bar, and a rooftop, you’re sure to feel at home at Abraham Jerusalem while spending Christmas in Israel.
Jaffa is a historic port city in the south of Tel Aviv, known for its winding cobblestone alleys and lively flea market. In Jaffa, you’ll find a large Christmas tree in the center of the old city around the holiday. You’ll also find a lively Christmas market in the streets, and there is typically a Christmas parade.
When exploring Jaffa during Christmas in Israel, be sure to check out our Abraham Tel Aviv. It’s centrally located near some of the best restaurants and bars in the city. Abraham also has a large rooftop, energetic bar, and plenty of events. We offer dorm beds and private accommodations to ensure you’re comfortable during your stay in Tel Aviv. For a full video guide of our Tel Aviv hostel, click here.
Christmas in Israel is unlike anywhere else in the world due to the incredible amount of religious history and significance. If you have any questions about our Christmas tours, contact us here, and don’t forget to check out our full range of Israel tours.