Christmas in Israel 2013: the Ultimate Guide

Christmas Mass in BethlehemChristmas in Israel is a very special time for those of you visiting during the festive season. It might surprise you just how different it is to Christmas back home, but being so close to the root of the whole Christmas shebang can be quite a moving time, however much you believe…

Don’t miss our Christmas in Israel page for a collection of Christmas articles to keep you festive!

There are some amazing experiences to savor at every Christmas, including visiting Bethlehem, enjoying the magical alleyways of Jerusalem’s Old City, and taking part in the annual  parade and Christmas Mass in Nazareth, but we’ve collected them all here for you to make sure Christmas 2013 is one to remember…

Note that during the Christmas celebrations the Ministry of Tourism will be providing free transport for those travelling between Jerusalem and Bethlehem (alternatively, check out our guide on getting from Jerusalem to Bethlehem). Buses will leave according to demand from Mar Elias Monastery to the Church of the Nativity, and back again, and will be operating  non-stop from noon on 24 December through to noon on 25 December. Ministry of Tourism officials will also be welcoming visitors at Rachel’s Crossing with a goodie bag containing a set of festive coasters and chocolate – first come first served!

Christmas in Bethlehem 2013

The Star of Bethlehem - Jesus' birthplace

Christmas in Bethlehem is a special experience. We’ve done it, and it’s a moving time, especially if you can get tickets for the Midnight Mass. You can apply for tickets here, up until December 17.

In running order of events happening in Bethlehem:

7 December: Brass Christmas Concert, at the Talitha Kumi Church, starts at 18:00. Entrance is free.

15 – 23 December: 16.30 Novena of Christmas in St Catherine.

24 December:
13.00 at the Tomb of Rachel: His Beatitude, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fuad Twal, is welcomed by Latin Parish Priest of Bethlehem and representatives of Bethlehem, Beit Jala and Beit Sahour.
14.30 at the Manger Square: Solemn Entry of His Beatitude into the Basilica of the Nativity and St. Catherine Church followed by Pontifical Vespers.
16.00 at St. Catherine: Daily Procession to the Nativity Grotto.
21.00 at St. Catherine: The Church opens (Tickets required).
23.15 at St. Catherine: SOLEMN “OFFICE OF READINGS”.

25 December:
00.00 at St. Catherine: PONTIFICAL EUCHARISTIC CONCELEBRATION (Tickets required).
00.00 at the Manger Grotto: Low Masses till 1.30 in Arabic (Tickets required);
1.30 at St. Catherine: Solemn traditional Procession to the Grotto until 2.30.
2.30 at the Manger Grotto: Low Masses till 5.15 (no tickets required), Interruption from 5.30 to 7.00 approximately.
7.30 at St. Catherine: PARISH MASS IN ARABIC.
10.00 at St. Catherine: PONTIFICAL CHRISTMAS MASS IN ARABIC AND LATIN.
14.00: Pilgrimage to the Greek and then to the Latin Shepherd’s Field.

26 December: Feast of St. Stephen
In the Manger Grotto: Holy Masses at 5.00 and 7.30.
At St. Catherine: Holy Masses at 6.30 (Italian), 7.00 (Arabic).
12.00: Daily procession to the Grotto of the Nativity.

27 December: Feast of St. John Evangelist
In the Manger Grotto: Holy Masses at 5.00 and 7.30.
At St. Catherine: Holy Masses at 6.30 (Italian) and 7.00 (Arabic).
12.00: Daily Procession to the Grotto.
16.45: Veneration of the Rock of Manger Grotto.

28 December: Feast of the Holy Innocents
In the Manger Grotto: Holy Masses at 5.00 and 7.30.
At St. Catherine: Holy Masses at 6.30 (Italian), 7.00 (Arabic).
10.00: SUNG MASS (Latin) IN THE GROTTO OF THE HOLY INNOCENTS.
12.00: Daily Procession to the Grotto.
14.00: Vespers in the Grotto of the Holy Innocents.

29 December:
In the Manger Grotto: Holy Masses at 5.00 and 7.30.
At St. Catherine: Holy Masses at 6.30 (Italian), 7.00 (Arabic).
12.00: Daily Procession to the Grotto.
15.00: Shepherd’s Field, Solemn Mass at in commemoration of the Shepherds.

30 December:
In the Manger Grotto: Holy Masses at 5.00 and at 8.30.
At St. Catherine: Holy Masses at 6.30 (Italian), 7.30; 9.00; 11.00; 16.30 (Arabic).

31 December: New Year’s Eve
In the Manger Grotto: Holy Masses at 5.00 and 7.30.
At St. Catherine: Holy Masses at 6.30 (Italian).
14.00 SOLEMN VESPERS WITH PROCESSION TO THE GROTTO.
16.00 Eucharistic Adoration followed by Holy Mass of Thanksgiving (Arabic) with TE DEUM.

1 January: 
In the Manger Grotto: Holy Masses at 5.00 am and 7.30.
At St. Catherine: Holy Masses at 6.30 am (Italian), 7.30 am (Arabic).
SOLEMN MASS AT 10.30 (Arabic) followed by Procession to the Milk Grotto with the Icon of Virgin Mary.

5 January: Eve of Epiphany
In the Manger Grotto: Holy Masses at 5.00 and 7.30.
11.00 at the Tomb of Rachel: His Paternity the Custos of the Holy Land is welcomed by Latin Parish Priest and other representatives of Bethlehem.
11.30 at the Manger Square: Solemn Entry of his Paternity the Custos of the Holy Land into the Basilica of the Nativity and St. Catherine Church.
13.45 at St. Catherine: PONTIFICAL VESPERS AND PROCESSION TO THE GROTTO.
15.30 at St. Catherine: OFFICE OF READINGS AND PROCESSION TO THE GROTTO.

6 January: Epiphany 
Midnight at the Grotto: Holy Masses from 00.00 till 9.00 with an interruption from 1.00 to 2.30 approximately.
7.30 at St. Catherine: Holy Mass.
10.00 at St. Catherine: PONTIFICAL MASS (Latin and Arabic).
15.30 at St. Catherine: SOLEMN VESPERS AND SOLEMN TRADITIONAL PROCESSION TO THE GROTTO: VENERATION OF THE INFANT JESUS WITH THE GIFTS OF GOLD, INCENSE AND MYRRH.

Christmas in Nazareth 2013

Nazareth - International Day of FaithNazareth is a great place to visit for those of you not able to make it to Bethlehem/Jerusalem. There is the now annual Christmas Market, a Christmas Parade, and Midnight Mass in the Church of the Annunciation, so plenty to enjoy!

The all-day Christmas Market will run from 11 – 15 December. Here you can find some traditional Christmas goodies, gifts, and decorations. Read more here.

And don’t miss the annual traditional lighting of the Christmas tree, located by the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation (on 11 December, the first night of the Market).

On Christmas Eve (24 December) enjoy some real Christmas festivities, with the annual Christmas Parade starting at 15:30 (get there EARLY!), a great fireworks display at 17:30, and the Midnight Mass in the Basilica of the Annunciation, which will start at 19:00.

On Christmas Day, all Catholic Churches have Mass. At the Church of the Annunciation the first Mass takes place at 07:00. At 10:00, a festive Mass will take place.

For the very latest information on services, check out www.cicts.org.

Happy Christmas to you and yours!

Hi!

Shalom!

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