Abigail Klein Leichman
December 25, 2018, Updated December 28, 2023

On Christmas 2018, Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics reports that approximately 175,000 Christians live in Israel, comprising about 2 percent of the country’s population.

Arab Christians account for 77.7% of that number, and most of them (70.6%) reside in the northern part of Israel.

The localities with the most Arab Christians are Nazareth (22,100), Haifa (15,800), Jerusalem (12,600), and Shefar’am (10,200), as of the end of 2017.

An Israeli family choosing a Christmas tree. Photo by Mira Zar/KKL-JNF

Non-Arab Christians are found in the largest numbers in the Tel Aviv and central districts (40.9%); another 33.8% reside in the northern and Haifa districts.

In 2017, 2,504 infants were born to Christian women, about 75% of whom were born to Arab Christian women (1,877 infants).

As far as New Year’s, because the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashana) is in the fall, most Israelis do not celebrate the secular New Year’s Eve on December 31 with any fanfare, according to a report released today by the Jewish People Policy Institute, a think tank established by the Jewish Agency for Israel.

However, many immigrants from the former Soviet Union do celebrate Novy God (Russian for “New Year”) on December 31-January 1 as a secular holiday. The JPPI report estimates that 60-70,000 of Israeli households put up a Christmas tree and exchange gifts in celebration of Novy God.

Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund distributes pine trees at its Shefar’am nursery every December for Christmas and Novy God. Customers come from the general public, churches, monasteries, embassies and foreign press stationed in Israel.

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