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Did You Know Christmas is Celebrated Three Times?

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

I thought you might like to see how Bethlehem looked like this Christmas. With prayers and good wishes from the very land of Christ's birth.

All Christian denominations in Palestine agreed to celebrate Christmas on the new calendar December 25th since the early 90's and celebrate the Holy Easter on the old Julian calendar according to the date with the Orthodox Church. Most towns and villages follow this cultural understanding so that people can wish each other sincere greetings all at the same time. However, Jerusalem and Bethlehem being very popular tourist cities celebrate Christmas three times according to the dates and traditions of the Latin Church, Greek Orthodox Church and Armenian community falling on the dates of December 25th, January 7th and January 19th. And this year was truly a white Orthodox Christmas in the Holy Land with snow on all the hills and mountain sides.

According to the Late Holy Father John Paul on his visit to the Holy Land in 2000, the most memorable statement that stayed in my mind is when he said: "In the hearts of Christians, it is Christmas every day." And being the very small Christian community with less than 1.5% of the population, it is nice to remember the Good News daily since the Prince of Peace brings the joy and inner peace needed to survive the violent times all around.

The message that the Christian community has from the Holy Land is for the spirit of Christmas to remain with people the whole year and bring peace in ones heart, home, church and in Palestine.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:11)