Christmas vendors abound in the Wadi Nisnas neighborhood of Haifa. Photo by Jorge Novominsky/FLASH90
Christmas vendors abound in the Wadi Nisnas neighborhood of Haifa. Photo by Jorge Novominsky/FLASH90

Christmas markets in Israel cannot match the legendary holiday stalls of Strasbourg, Berlin or Nuremberg, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find the holiday spirit here. You just need to know where to go.

The Christmas Market in Nazareth comes replete with holiday cheer on the backdrop of historic holy sites. The 2014 event will take place from today to December 21 at Mary’s Well Square, not far from the Basilica of the Annunciation. As per tradition, the festivities swing into action in the early evening.

This is the place to come for homemade crafts, delicious tastes, music and street theater. Santa is a regular visitor and is always happy to pose for a photo.

The Holiday of Holidays Festival in Haifa  draws crowds to its weekend market every Thursday through Saturday in December. The annual event offers an antique fair, concerts, art exhibits and a market selling commercially produced Christmas decorations to upwards of 200,000 visitors.

Stalls in the Wadi Nisnas neighborhood offer tasty treats for sale, but don’t expect traditional Stollen fruit loaf, hot punch and gingerbread. Instead, try the more Middle Eastern flavors of candied nuts, halva, knafeh and pita with labaneh.

Ben-Gurion Street in Haifa is also decked out for Christmas. There’s an enormous tree that lights up the evenings, and storefronts and restaurants in the German Colony are all decorated in Christmas colors.

In Jerusalem, the Christian Quarter in the Old City is the place to shop for Christmas. The year-round shop stalls add tinsel and a feeling of the holiday spirit during the month of December. There are numerous “Christmas tours” of the city  that include a guided walk through the marketplace and visits to nearby churches.

Though the Christmas Market in Rameh and the annual Christmas Bazaar in Jaffa already took place earlier this month, in Tel Aviv-Jaffa you can find a handful of stores that sell Santa hats, stockings, colorful tinsel and plastic Christmas trees with baubles already attached.

Stores lining Yefet Street in Jaffa sell Christmas ornaments. Outside No. 38 you will see an enormous, colorfully decorated Christmas tree.

On Matalon Street in the south part of Tel Aviv, shops rotate their wares according to the holidays – regardless of religion. Come here for everything plastic.

Indeed, even though just two percent of the Israeli population identifies as Christian, sharing the holiday spirit is prevalent around the country.

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