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Wedding Bells sound at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem

23 September, 201123 September, 2011 0 comments Bethlehem Bethlehem

Just imagine the scene: A beautifully decorated car, with a bride in a white wedding dress, stops in front of a church. The bride steps on the ground and then she walks slowly with her father toward the basilica...

Wedding Bells sound at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem

This description suits most brides and most weddings... but the description of my wedding was quite different.

A beautifully decorated car, with a bride wearing a white gorgeous wedding dress, stops in front of the magnificent Nativity Church in Bethlehem. The bride steps on the ground of the Nativity and walks slowly with her father toward the basilica. They pass the Door of Humility and walk among the 5th century columns in the direction of the St. Catherina Church...

Inside of the church I got an incredible feeling of happiness. A couple of years ago I would never have imagined getting married in such an important and holy place as the birth place of Jesus Christ.

My father led me to the entrance of the St. Catherine Church - where my fiancé, Johny, along his brother George (our witness) and dozens of guests were waiting. My father greeted Johny and passed me to him - so that we could enter St. Catherines Church together as bride and groom.

Wow! Even more people were waiting inside the church and the place was beautifully decorated with white flowers and ribbons. When the organs started to play we entered the church, with a little boy and girl in front of us holding the rings, then George and my sister, Eve - our witnesses - and then us - Beata & Johny.

The atmosphere inside the St. Catherine Church was breathtaking - I would never imagine that my marriage could look better. All the people, gathered together to celebrate this beautiful moment with us, the overwhelming magnificence of the Nativity Church and our love strengthened with the sacrament of Matrimony - everything on that day was perfectly harmonized.


Wedding Bells sound at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem

The priest began the mass with a blessing of beautiful spiritual words and the sign of the cross. He announced us as the husband and the wife. After we took our marriage oath, we exchanged the rings and the Eucharist in front of the main altar, and we went with the priest to another little altar dedicated to the Virgin Mary. We prayed to the Virgin and gave Her a beautiful bouquet of flowers to thank Her for caring for us.

After the ceremony everybody wanted to congratulate us and say mabrook (in Arabic congratulations).
Then came the time to celebrate! We organized a big wedding party for 300 guests. For me and my European guests, it was quite large however... according to the locals the wedding was small -some Palestinian weddings can be for more than 1000 guests!

We entered the wedding hall and immediately all the guests began to dance around us to the beat of the Arabic songs. Everybody was cheerful and excited to celebrate - and me and my husband did not have a moment to rest.

In planning our wedding we decided to include certain Palestinian wedding traditions:

Zafeht el-Aruz - Girls celebrating the bride - The bride and the girls enter the wedding hall each holding beautifully decorated candles. Of course, the two candles of the bride are the biggest and the most stunning. Later all the girls gather and dance around the bride until the groom and his men enter the hall.

Zafet el-Areez - Men celebrating the groom - The men enter the wedding hall with the groom on their shoulders. Everybody sings and celebrates the groom. The men put on their traditional Arabic headpieces, the Koffeyeh, - a characteristic black-white scarf and hold wooden sticks.

The whole experience was truly a moment I'll never forget and I'm sure everyone there felt the same way. Attending and participating in a Palestinian wedding is a unique experience and if you are ever invited to one, make sure you accept. There is no better way to feel a culture than to experience it firsthand.

Wedding Bells sound at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem

Beata M. Andonia works for Bethlehem tourist bureau and blogs for Travelujah. She is oryginally from Poland and moved to Bethlehem in 2010.


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Bethlehem is my new home since September 2010. This charming town in the Holy Land is definitely worth a visit! Discover Bethlehem with my blog :-) Other places are coming soon...


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