Christmas in the Holy Land is celebrated like nowhere else on earth. After all, this is where the events in the life of Jesus, as described in the Gospels, actually took place!
December is therefore a popular time for tourists from across the world to join the Christian communities of Israel for a season filled with sacred rituals, colorful decorations and authentic holiday traditions.
We’ve collected these magnificent photos for you to get a peek at the pageantry and excitement leading up to Christmas on December 25, or January 7 for the Eastern Orthodox traditions.
The German Colony in Haifa, all dressed up for the holidays. Photo by Sapir Bronzberg/FLASH90
Shoppers at the Christmas market at the Central Bus Station, south Tel Aviv, a few weeks before the Christmas holiday, December 2018. Photo by Miriam Alster/FLASH90
A nun shopping for Christmas decorations in the Old City of Jerusalem. Photo by Itay Cohen/FLASH90
Despite the warm weather, a juice seller dressed up as Santa Claus in Nazareth a few days before Christmas. Photo by Itay Cohen/FLASH90
Santa Claus walks the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem a few days before Christmas, in an annual tradition. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90
A monk next to a Christmas tree in Jerusalem’s old City. Photo by Abir Sultan/FLASH90
Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III leads a pre-Christmas (Eastern tradition) ceremony at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, January 6, 2018. Photo by Wisam Hashlamoun/FLASH90
Catholic nuns from the Beit Jamal monastery attend a Christmas Mass in Saint Stephen’s Church outside of Beit Shemesh. Photo by Yaakov Lederman/FLASH90
A 15-meter tall Christmas tree in Jaffa-Tel Aviv, December 2017. Photo by Miriam Alster/FLASH90