Israel is a cultural mosaic, and at no time is that more obvious than in December, when Jews and Christians in the country celebrate two major holidays – Hannukah and Christmas – often within a few days of one another, and even overlapping at times.


Hannukah is a festival of light – an eight-day holiday commemorating the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. The tradition is to light a nine-branched hannukiya with brightly-colored candles. The first night only one candle is lit, with another being added for each day of the holiday.
Christmas, which is observed by the 136,000 Christians living in the country, is a celebration of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. Some 70,000 pilgrims are expected to arrive in Israel for the holiday this year.

Israel’s city streets are lit up with neon hannukiyot during the festivities, and the shops are bursting with people buying anything from Christmas trees and tinsel, to Hannukah candles, soufganiyot (jelly donuts) and hannukiyot.

Whatever your faith, ISRAEL21c brings you a series of pictures to enhance your enjoyment of the holiday season.

Find out more in the photos below. Click on a thumbnail to see a larger version of the image.

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