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December 7, 2014December 7, 2014  0 comments  Geography


Imagine spending Christmas where it all began, in the city renowned worldwide as the birthplace of Jesus Christ, Bethlehem. Imagine still, celebrating mass in the one of the oldest churches in the world, the Church of the Nativity, situated in the heart of the ancient city of Bethlehem, on Manger Square.


Now is your chance.


church of the nativity



The highly coveted midnight mass tickets are now available online free - but register today at this link - Tickets are limited.


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Elisa L. Moed is the Founder and CEO of Travelujah-Holy Land tours, the leading Christian travel network focused on Holy Land tours. People can learn, plan and share their Holy Land tour and travel experiences on Travelujah.


January 5, 2015January 5, 2015  0 comments  Geography

With snow predicted to fall in Jerusalem on Wednesday, it may very well be a white Christmas for Orthodox Christians. Much of the world might be enjoying after Christmas sales but in the Holy Land, two more Christmas holidays are yet to come. The Holy Land is surely unique and celebrating Christmas three times Dec. 25 (Catholics and Protestants), Jan. 6 (Orthodox) and Jan. 19 (Armenian Orthodox only in Jerusalem and Bethlehem) -more than in any other place in the world.


Two calendars - Three holidays


Due to calendar differences most Orthodox Churches including the Greek Orthodox, Ethiopian, Russian Orthodox, Coptic and Syrian celebrate nativity on January 6 and 7, which is the date known as Old Christmas Day because this is the date that the first Christian emperor, Constantine, assigned as the date of Christ's birth in 325. Later in 350 Pope Julius declared that Christmas would be celebrated on January 6. Much later, in 1576, Pope Gregory made the switch to the Gregorian calendar (named in his honor) and 13 days were ‘lost' in the switch, which is why Christmas was moved to December 25 for Latin Catholics. Christian Orthodoxy did not follow the calendar change for another 200 years  yet they still kept the original January 6th date. Meanwhile the Armenian Church in Jerusalem decided to hold onto the original January 6 date and then added the lost days to it which is why their Christmas is on January 19.


Orthodox Christians follow many unique traditions in their celebration of Christmas. The most significant tradition is the holy fasting that occurs for between 40 and 25 days depending on the country of origin. The fast generally includes obstaining from meat products, and certain foods such as kidney beans, garlic, Lenten bread, nuts and fresh dried fruits. Special foods such as baked cod are also traditionally eaten.


The tradition behind having a Christmas tree originates from a pagan tradition for Latin Catholics. However, for Orthodox Christians, the tree possesses biblical significance as it is a reminder of  the paradise tree of fruit found in the biblical story of Adam and Eve.


Even the tradition of what Latin Catholics refer to as Santa Claus is different for Orthodox Christans who, instead, celebrate St. Nicholas for Orthodox Christians.  St. Nicholas was a historic 4th-century saint and Greek Orthodox Bishop of Myra, also known as ‘Nikolaos of Myra' (in modern day Turkey).


Moreover, Orthodox Christians place much significance on Christmas songs or canons. These are sung from the Holy Day of "Vavedenje" on the December 4, until the January 13, which is the Day of the New Year and is often called Small Christmas. Just like New Years eve is celebrated on December 31, all Orthodox Christians celebrate New Years eve on January 13.


Orthodox churches situated in Georgia, Jerusalem, Russia, the Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and Ukraine still use the Julian Calendar.

Armenians have claimed an enduring presence in Jerusalem dating back to 95 BC and a community on Mount Zion since the fourth century. They were the first community to adopt Christianity in in 301 AD. Today the Armenian population living in the Armenian Quarter in the Old City totals around 2,000 residents.


Upcoming Catholic Epiphany,  Orthodox Christmas and Related Celebrations:


Monday, 5th January 2015 (Vigil):

11.30 Solemn Entry of the Custos, Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, OFM

13.45 First Vespers

14.45 Procession to the Grotto of the Nativity

15.30 Compieta and second procession to the Grotto of the Nativity


Tuesday, 6th January 2015, Feast day:

Nativity Church and St. Catherine's Church

10.00 Solemn mass celebrated by the Custos of the Holy Land

15.30 Second Vespers and procession to the Grotto of the Nativity


Armenian Celebrations:

January 11th - James the Major and St. John
January 19th - Christmas Day



BASILICA OF THE NATIVITY, Manger Square, Tel. 02-2742440, Fax: 02-6282048


January 6th, 2015

4.30    Coptic Mass at the Armenian Altar of the Nativity

8.30    The Syrian Archbishop arrives at Manger Square

10.00  The Coptic Archbishop arrives at Manger Square

12.45  H.B. the Greek Patriarch arrives at Manger Square (Vespers, Liturgy ends at 15.30)

13.00  Syrian first Liturgy and Exaltation of the Holy Cross in The Grotto

14.30  Coptic Vespers

15.00  Syrian Vespers

22.30  Greek Matins

22.40  Syrian Mid-Night and morning official Order Prayers

23.00  Coptic Mid-Night and morning official Order Prayers

00.00  Greek Service, ends at 3.30 am


Note: The ROMANIAN CHURCH (Tel. 02-6263034, Fax: 02-6264628) participates in all liturgies and prayers of the Greek Orthodox Church.


ETHIOPIAN CHURCH - ETHIOPIAN MONASTERY OF PEACE-CHURCH OF EYESUS, Milk Grotto Street, Tel. 02-6282848, Fax: 02-6264189


January 6th, 2015

15.00  Arrival at the Manger Square and procession to the Church of Eyesus

16.00  Vespers till 5.00 pm

20.45  Bells, prayers

21.50  Laudes (Mahlet)

00.00  Midnight Liturgy (Kidassie)


January 7th, 2015

6.00    Dispersal or completion of the Festivity




January 18th, 2015

11.00  Arrival of H.B. the Armenian Patriarch on Manger Square

14.00  Entry in the Basilica of Nativity - Vespers and Christmas Eve Mass

22.00  Armenian Midnight Service, ends at 1.00 am


January 19th, 2015 (Feast of Epiphany starts)

1.00    Blessing of the Holy Water & Episcopal High Mass in the Grotto

6.00 End


GREEK CHURCH - CHURCH OF THE HOLY SEPULCHRE, Old City, Tel. 02-6284202, Fax: 02-6282048

January 6th, 2015:

23.00  Midnight Service


ROMANIAN CHURCH, Shivtei Israel Street 46, Jerusalem, Tel. 02-6263034, Fax: 02-6264628

January 6th, 2015:

19.00  Vespers


Jan. 7th - 9th, 2015:

9.00    Holy Liturgy


RUSSIAN CHURCH (MOSCOW MISSION), Russian Compound, Tel. 02-6252565, Fax: 02-6256325


January 6th, 2015:

17.00  Vespers at Holy Trinity Cathedral

January 7th, 2015:

00.00  Divine Liturgy - Holy Trinity Cathedral


ARMENIAN CHURCH -ST. JAMES CATHEDRAL, Armenian Orthodox Patriarchate Road, Tel. 02-6282331


January 25th, 2015:

17.00  Vespers in St. James Cathedral



January 18th, 2015:

13.00  Eve of the Nativity

January 26th, 2015:           

8.30    High Mass


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Elisa L. Moed is the Founder and CEO of Travelujah-Holy Land Tours, the leading Christian travel network focused on Christian tourism. People can learn, share and plan their Holy Land tour and travel experiences on Travelujah.


December 9, 2009December 9, 2009  0 comments  Food & Drinks

Where to go for a special Christmas dinner in Jerusalem?

Two historic properties, the American Colony Hotel and Notre Dame Center are hosting elaborate Christmas meals.

The American Colony Hotel if offering both Christmas dinner for $95 per peron plus VAT and and Christmas Day lunch buffet for $75 per person plus VAT. Reservations are required. Please let them know that you were referred by Travelujah!!

American Colony Hotel Christmas Eve Dinner



Stuffed salmon mousse with crab meat

on grilled avocado



Curried pumpkin cream soup



"Traditional Christmas Turkey"

Turkey stuffing, cranberry, & chestnuts

served with Christmas flavoured seasonal vegetables




Bouche de Noël


Christmas pudding




The Notre Dame Center's Christmas lunch


Selections of Local & International Salads, Seafood & Salmon

Roast Lamb Leg, Grill Baby Chicken & St. Peter Fish with Almond Sauce

Oriental Rice, Fresh Vegetables in Season

Selection of Home made Pastries& Fresh fruits in Season

Famous Notre Dame Bouche de Noel 


For Reservation please call 02 6279111  

$45 per person 

Bon Appetit from Travelujah         

December 3, 2009December 3, 2009  0 comments  Events

There is clearly one very special place to celebrate Christmas and that's here in the Holy Land. Should you be fortunate to be spending Christmas in this region, you will likely want to attend one of the very many special masses and other Christmas festivities planned during this holiday season.

Below is the schedule of major Christmas Events happening in Bethlehem this year!


Book Now - Special  Christmas Tour: 4 Day/3 Nights or 5 Day/4 Nights



DECEMBER 24 (Thursday)

1.00 pm at the Tomb of Rachel:
His Beatitude, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twall, is welcomed by,
Latin Parish Priest of Bethlehem and representatives of Bethlehem, Beit Jala and
Beit Sahour.
1.30 pm at the Manger Square:
Solemn Entry of His Beatitude into the Basilica of the Nativity and
St. Catherine Church followed by Pontifical Vespers.
4.00 pm at St. Catherine Church:
Daily Procession to the Nativity Grotto.
10.00 pm at St. Catherine Church:
is opened. Tickets, free of charge, required.
11.10 pm at St. Catherine Church:
Solemn "Office of Readings".

DECEMBER 25 (Friday)

Midnight: at St. Catherine Church:
Pontifical Eucharistic Concelebration.
Midnight: at the Grotto:
Low Masses till 5.15 pm with interruption at 1.30 am
for one hour approximately, and at 5.30 am till 7.00 am approximately.
1.30 am at St. Catherine Church:
Solemn traditional Procession to the Grotto.
10.00 am at St. Catherine Church:
Chanting of Terce and Pontifical Mass.
2.00 pm Pilgrimage to the Orthodox Grotto:
of the Shepherds and the Latin Chapel of Shepherds' Field.

DECEMBER 26 (Saturday)

10.00 am at St. Catherine Church: Mass.

DECEMBER 27 (Sunday)

5.15 pm at St. Catherine Church:
Procession to the Grotto of the Holy Innocents and Sung Vespers.

DECEMBER 28 (Monday, Feast of the Holy Innocents)

6.30 am at St. Catherine:
Masses at 6.30, 7.30 am, 9.00 am, 11.00 am and 4.30 pm.
10.00 am in the Grotto of the Holy Innocents Sung Mass
3.00 pm in the Grotto of the Holy Innocents: Vespers

DECEMBER 31 (Thursday)

4.30 pm at St. Catherine Church:
Mass and Benediction with the Holy Sacrament.


JANUARY 1 (Friday)

10.00 am at St. Catherine Church:
Low Masses followed by Procession to the Milk Grotto.
4.30 pm at St. Catherine Church: Mass.

JANUARY 4 (Monday)

6.30 am at St. Catherine:
Masses at 6.30, 7.30 am, 9.00 am, 11.00 am.
3:00 pm at the Latin Chapel of Shepherds' Field:
High Mass

JANUARY 5 (Tuesday)

11.00 am at the Tomb of Rachel:
His Paternity the Custos of the Holy Land is welcomed by Latin Parish Priest
and other representatives of Bethlehem.
11.30 am at the Manger Square:
Solemn Entry of his Paternity the Custos of the Holy Land into the
Basilica of the Nativity and St. Catherine Church.
1.30 pm at St. Catherine Church:
Pontifical Vespers and Procession to the Grotto.
3.30 pm at St. Catherine Church:
Procession to the Grotto.

JANUARY 6 (Thursday)

Midnight at the Grotto:
Masses till 9.00 am with an interruption
between 1.00 and 2.00 am approximately.
10.00 am at St. Catherine Church:
Pontifical Eucharistic Concelebration.
3.30 pm at St. Catherine Church:
Sung Vespers and Solemn traditional Procession to the Grotto.

October 18, 2010October 18, 2010  2 comments  Events

Israel's Minister of Tourism, Stas Misezhnikov, sent a letter today to the  Chilean miners inviting them and their spouses  to visit the Holy Land this Christmas.


"Your bravery and strength of spirit, your great faith that helped you survive so long in the bowels of the earth, was an inspiration to us all," he wrote. "It would be a great honor for us to welcome you as our guests in the Holy Land. This December, Christians around the world - and here in the Land of Jesus - will celebrate Christmas. During that time, we welcome tens of thousands of pilgrims and we would be pleased to offer you this uplifting and extraordinary experience, as our guests."


According to the Israel Ministry of Tourism, the weeklong tour will include guiding and visits to the most important Christian holy sites. While the specific itinerary is not yet planned, it is possible that Bethlehem, where the Church of the Nativity is located, and within the Palestinian Territories, will be on the roster of sites to be visited.


As a country Chile is very Christian, approximately 87% of the population, or almost 15 million people are of the Christian faith. According to interviews with many of the rescued men, that faith played a very important role in their survival. One relative was quoted as saying that the rescue was  "A miracle from God." On one of the many videos of the rescue one miner upon exit from the capsule  got on his knees and prayed and held  up his arms. Another said "I met God. I met the devil. God won."


It is truly a blessing, a miracle,  that these men survived. Each year on Hanukah, Jewish people worldwide celebrate the fact that a little bit of oil lasted 8 days and the words "Nes Gadol Haya Po" or a Great Miracle Happened Here - are visibly seen around this country.  This year, however, a great miracle happened in Chile - and all of us here in Israel are very excited about the opportunity to celebrate this Christmas with these brave men and their families here in Israel and possibly in the Palestinian territories as well. We hope they will accept the invitation and travel here.

January 8, 2012January 8, 2012  0 comments  Events

The Feast of the Epiphany, which means manifestation, is observed on Jan. 6 for Catholics and on Jan. 18 for Orthodox Christians and celebrates the revelation of Jesus as son of God in the flesh.


For Catholics, the Epiphany commemorates the visit of the Magi to Jesus after his birth in Bethlehem while for Orthodox Christians, the feast remembers his baptism and revelation by God in public as the son of God.


On Jan. 6, the Catholic church in the Holy Land will observe the feast with a solemn entry into the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. This event is considered the conclusion of the Christmas season.


"Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, 'Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.' When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They said to him, 'In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet: "And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, ar eby no means least among the leaders of Judah; For out of you shall come forth a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel."' ... After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way." Matthew 2:1-12


A procession from Jerusalem to Mar Elias into Bethlehem will take place including a stop at Rachel's Tomb, where the parish priest of Bethlehem and parishioners from Beit Sahour and Bethlehem wait to join the march.


Scouts go ahead of the processional, intended to mark the route of the Magi to Manger Square, usually around noon on that day. A special mass is said in the church. The Catholic celebration of the Epiphany coincides with the Orthodox celebration of Christmas, which starts with a series of masses that night.


For the Orthodox church, the Epiphany recounts Jesus' experience as an adult being revealed as the son of God.


"Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. But John tried to prevent Him, saying, 'I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?' But Jesus answering said to him, 'Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.' Then he permitted Him. After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, 'This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.'" Matthew 3:13-17


This feast is the third most important day on the calendar behind Easter and Pentecost for the Eastern Orthodox churches. Also known as the Theophany - manifestation of the divine - the Feast of the Epiphany marks the foundation of the doctrine of the Trinity.


In a much different celebration than the Catholic Epiphany, thousands of Christian pilgrims descend to the Jordan River, specifically to Qasr El Yahud, the site many believe to be the authentic site where John baptized Jesus.


Qasr El Yahud baptismal site

Epiphany at Qasr El Yahud

Photo: Travelujah -Greek Patriarchate Theopolis III releasing the dove at Epiphany ceremonies at Qasr El Yahud;


There, the faithful, sometimes numbering 20,000 and most from abroad, will be baptized themselves following in the footsteps of their Lord. The Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem leads the event which includes a procession from the nearby Monastery of John the Baptist and a series of blessings at a small chapel near the river.


Three doves are symbolically released into the sky to represent the Trinity: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The joyous occasion can seem a bit raucous with dozens of young people playing pipes, beating drums and singing.


This event, marking the end of the Orthodox Christmas season, coincides with the Armenian Christmas, which begins on the eve of Jan. 18.


Half day and one day tours are offered to Bethlehem regularly. Learn more about day toursto  Bethlehem and Jericho at this link.


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Nicole Jansezian writes for Travelujah, the leading Christian social network focused on connecting Christians to the Holy Land. People can learn, plan and share their Holy Land tour and travel experiences on Travelujah.



Tags: epiphany christmas 

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