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It was an amazing feeling to wake up in the morning and see our garden covered with white snow that fell overnight. Some of our lemon and orange trees, still bearing their fruits, bowed down under snow’s weight. There was such an unusual contrast between the snow’s frosty whiteness and the vivid orange, yellow and green plants.
But the best moment arrived when the sky cleared and we could see the Basilica of the Nativity in the middle of the Old City of Bethlehem from our window. Its roof was completely covered with a layer of snow and the hills of the Judean wilderness in the background were unusually white.
“So Joseph [and Mary] also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem […] While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. (Luke 2:4-6)
Celebrating Christmas in Bethlehem, the town where Jesus was born, is a magical, once in a lifetime experience for many people. The fact that most Christmas events occur on Manger Square, just couple of meters from the Nativity Grotto – the place of Christ’s birth, makes it even more unique.
Last week, thous
Christmas is a time of celebration and reunion. Thus, it is a common practice among Holy Land Christian communities to visit members of their families and neighbours during this festive period. The families visit in two groups – one family will visit while another is hosting guests at home.
When entering a home, it is appropriate for the guest to admire all the beautiful Christmas decorations, lights, Christmas tableware, and, of course, the very decorative Christmas trees with mghrara – a cave representing the Nativity scene, made from colorful paper and containing olive wood figures of the Holy Family, Magi and shepherds etc.
Gospel of Luke mentions Nazareth in Galilee to be the place where Virgin Mary was told by the Angel Gabriel that she would bore Jesus. Also there, she married Joseph. However, it was in the town of Bethlehem where Jesus was born. One can ask: Why spouses decided to walk from Nazareth to Bethlehem, while Virgin Mary was in such an advanced pregnancy? That was indeed a long journey, which might have taken them from four up to seven days. The answer can be found in the Biblical verses:
"In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. […] And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from
Olive Harvest Season
Olive trees are considered a very significant part of the Palestinian tradition, as they have always been both an essential element of Palestinian livelihood and a symbolic sign of harmony and welfare.
For the Palestinian farmers, the months of October and November mark the olive harvest season, which is the time of family gatherings and joyful festivals.
It is preferable to pick up the olives manually, which means a lot of hard work taking also a lot of time. To ease the labour, farmers sing various lively folk songs and listen to the stories of the elders.
The picturesque village of Taybeh, located 12 km
northeast of Ramallah, is home to around 1500 people, and is the only all-Christian Palestinian community in the Holy Land. From its elevated spot,
it overlooks the desert wilderness, the Jordan Valley, Jericho, and the Dead
Sea. It's prominent reputation includes its notoriety as the only Palestinian city that has its own beer factory, Taybeh beer. And every year it rises to prominence in early October as it hosts the Holy Land's only Oktoberfest. This year it is slated for October 6 and 7, 2012.
“You are a garden locked up, my sister, my bride; you are a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain.” (Song of Songs 4:12)
Imagine taking a walk in the Hortus Conclusus – the enclosed garden of the Song of Songs - the place, where according to the legend, the biblical king Solomon disported himself among the flourishing gardens.
The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven is a common Christian belief saying that the Virgin was taken into Heaven. However, there are some disputes among the Christian fractions about the fact if that happened after her death or maybe still during her life.
The feast of the Assumption occurs annually on the 15th of August according to the Julian Calendar, and is followed by the Eastern Orthodox Churches, on the 28th of August.
During the holiday the Christians of the Holy Land and numerous pilgrims gather in the Church of the Mary’s Tomb in Jerusalem t
“Where the Lord Jesus was born there a basilica was built on Constantine’s command.” That’s how the 4th century anonymous pilgrim from France describes in his writings the world famous Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem, which in late June 2012 became one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Emperor Constantine’s church was built on the site of the Nativity Grotto and was completed in 339 A.D. The construction was initiated by the mother of the emperor, St. Helena, who converted to Christianity. But how did she know this spot was the site of Jesus’s birth?
There is always something special to explore or someone interesting to meet when traveling on a Holy Land tour. During our tour to Nablus, the town on the site of biblical Sechem, we decided to visit the Samaritan inhabitants living in Mt. Gerazim. Till that day, we only read about them in the Bible.
We knew the famous story of Jesus meeting the Samaritan women on the site of the Jacob’s Well in Shechem. “When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” His
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...