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.
Snow in Bethlehem is a very rare occurrance and disappears quickly. But when it does happen, its arrival brings a holiday – everyonestays home and enjoys it. In reality nobody stays inside the house. Children and adults immediately go out to the streets and play with the snow, which can remain for up to two days, but usually only for a couple of hours.
This year 2013, we were able to make a snowman wearing a santa claus hat on its big head and a Palestinian-style scarf keffiyeh around its neck. The carrot nose was a must, and the idea of making its eyes from leftover Christmas chocolates was quite spontaneous.
The culmination of this special day was a traditional desert: snow topped with dibis – molasses made from a grape juice (in our case, a home made one). This local Palestinian tradition might seem to be strange for many – What? Eating snow? But here, snow is considered to be a blessing barakeh and it is always good to try a little bit of it. The mix of smow and dibis is a sweet and tasty slush like treat. Try it!
The warm rays of the Middle Eastern sun quickly melt this years great snowfall. And we wonder how long it will till we snow again in Bethlehem.
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Beata Andonia works for the Bethlehem tourist bureau and blogs regularly about Bethlehem for Travelujah-Holy Land Tours. She is originally from Poland and moved to Bethlehem in 2010.