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Travel into the Palestinian Territories
05-14-09

Weather and Best Season to Visit

Important Festivals and Exhibitions

Shopping

Palestinian Cuisine

Palestinian Christians


Weather and Best Season to Visit

Ideal weather conditions permit tourists to visit Bethlehem throughout the year. Given a choice however, spring would be an ideal season for this sojourn. Winters are cold accompanied by odd snowfall. Summer temperatures are bearable. January is the coldest of all the months while July and August are the warmest. Being a round the year destination weather wise, the criteria for selecting an ideal season for visit depends more on the festivities and their timings. Past trend suggests Christmas season to be the favorite amongst tourists.

 

Important Festivals and Exhibitions

Christmas is the most important event in this small town. There is a massive inflow of tourists from all over the world during the Christmas celebrations. Holy mass, carol services, and processions are the major highlights. Christmas is celebrated here on three different days in December and January according to the beliefs of different churches. These apart, various other events and festivities are held in the town throughout the year. Though, it is advisable to visit during the Christmas season to catch the true color of the town.


Shopping

Shopping can be a nice way to spend time in Bethlehem. Main attractions being religious ornaments, handmade from olive wood and mother-of-pearl, with a painstaking attention on details. Numerous shops in Bethlehem sell world-renowned olive wood artifacts made from the local olive trees. Major artifacts on display are: exquisite olive wood statues, boxes, crosses, and other artifacts.



Palestinian Cuisine

Palestinian cuisine consists of foods from or commonly eaten by the Arabs of historical Palestine - which includes those living in the Palestinian territories, Israel, refugee camps in nearby countries as well as by Palestinians living abroad. The cuisine is a diffusion of the cultures of civilizations that settled in Palestine, particularly during and after the Islamic era beginning with the Arab Umayyad conquest, then the eventual Persian-influenced Abbasids and ending with the strong influences of Turkish cuisine, resulting from the coming of the Ottoman Turks. It is similar to other Levantine cuisines, including Lebanese, Syrian, and Jordanian.


Palestinians eat several times during the day, with lunch being the largest meal vary by region and each type of cooking style and the ingredients used are generally based on the climate and location of the particular region and on traditions. Rice and variations of kibbee are common in the Galilee, the West Bank engages primarily in heavier meals involving the use of taboon bread, rice and meat and Gaza's inhabitants' frequent fish, other seafood, chili peppers and lentils. Meals are usually eaten in the household but dining out has become prominent particularly during parties where light meals like salads, bread dips and skewered meats are served.


The area is also home to many desserts, ranging from those made regularly and those that are commonly reserved for the holidays. Most Palestinian sweets are pastries filled with either sweetened cheeses, dates or various nuts such as almonds, walnuts or pistachios. Beverages could also depend on holidays such as during Ramadan, where carob, tamarind and apricot juices are consumed at sunset. Coffee is consumed throughout the day and liquor is not very prevalent amongst the population, however, some alcoholic beverages such as arak or beer are frequented by Christians and less conservative Muslims.


Palestinian Christians

 

In Israel and Palestine the number of Christians is declining, mainly due to emigration. Some are concerned that this "holy land" - including such historic Christian towns as Jerusalem and nearby Bethlehem - will become bereft of Christian "living stones" and serve as only a museum for international pilgrims.


Palestinian Christians may be small in number, but they are very active and visible in public life. In Israel, they are concentrated in the Galilee in northern Israel and around Jaffa and Lod in central Israel. In the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Christian communities are predominantly in the regions of Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Ramallah, with smaller numbers in other towns and a very small number in Gaza. They worship in a rich variety of church traditions: Eastern and Oriental Orthodox, Catholics and Protestants.


As well as worshipping together Sunday by Sunday, the Christian communities reach out to the society through offering educational opportunities, clinics, refugee support, social services and reconciliation projects. The mainline churches are members of the Middle East Council of Churches, which is also active in diaconal projects in the West Bank and Gaza. The Heads of Churches from the main traditions meet regularly to offer leadership to the Christian community. Christians are in need of encouragement and assurance as they maintain a Christian presence in the land in which Jesus lived.


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