With dozens of churches from which to choose, there are many Christmas services available for tourists and visitors in Israel, in different languages.

Christmas 2013/14 festivities in the Holy Land


Copyright: Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality

Christianity is practiced by more than 150,000 Israeli citizens Some 127,000 (80% of Christian residents) of Israel are Arab Christians, some 25,000 – the majority of the remaining are immigrants from the former Soviet Union who immigrated with a Jewish relatives due to mixed marriages; there are also smaller ethnoreligious affiliations of about 7,000 Maronites, 1,000 Assyrians and 1,000 Copts.

From remarks by President Shimon Peres at the Franciscan Church in Ramla to mark the Christmas holiday:

"It is a special occasion for us to be able to celebrate Christmas all together – we all pray to the same Lord and we all pray for the same thing – that the Lord may grant peace to us and our children, free from hatred and animosity.

I came to offer my greetings on behalf of the State of Israel where Jews, Christians and Muslims live together. It is my pleasure to bring you the greetings of the whole people of Israel; a holiday for one religion is a holiday for the whole country. As a state we are responsible for your safety, freedom and holy sites and for your feeling as free and equal citizens that carry with them the hope that unites us for peace and a better world. The Lord is doing what he can but we must do what we need to do, to follow His wish and our destiny, to live in peace."

Christmas 2013/14 festivities in the Holy Land

  Copyright: GPO/Mark Neiman

Christmas in Jerusalem

(Israel Ministry of Tourism)

With dozens of churches scattered throughout the Christian Quarter of the Old City including the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Dormition Abbey on Mount Zion, the Tomb of the Virgin on Mount of Olives and the Garden Tomb just outside the Old City, there are many Christmas services for tourists and visitors from which to choose, including in different languages. Equally, the magical neighborhood of Ein Karem offers a number of monasteries as well as the Church of John the Baptist for Christmas prayer.

The Jerusalem Municipality and the Jewish National Fund will distribute free Christmas trees to Christian residents of Jerusalem. The Jerusalem Development Authority, in coordination with local residents and shop keepers, will also decorate the streets and hang festive lighting in the Christian Quarter of the Old City.

Christmas Mass and Services:

For complete information on prayer services and languages, please access the website of the Christian Information Center which lists Masses and services taking place from December 24 – January 6th.

Christmas Concerts:

Christmas Eve Concert at the YMCA
Tuesday, December 24th, 2013, at 7:00 pm
Jerusalem International YMCA Auditorium  – 26 King David St., Jerusalem
Judi Axelrod, Conductor and Music Director.

Christmas carols performed by the Jerusalem A Cappella Singers, The Jerusalem Oratorio Chamber Choir directed by Ofer Dalal, Jerusalem International YMCA Palestinian and Israeli Youth Chorus directed by Mika Hendler.
Marina Ganshin, harp; Svetlana Bandikova, soprano; Rina Schechter – Piano.
Carillion (bell ringing) concert from the YMCA tower by Gabi Shefler.
Program: Schubert, Mozart, Debussy and seasonal finale with the traditional sing-along of carols with the audience.
Tickets are 50 NIS. Tel: 972-2-6237000 . tickets@bimot.co.il

Hallelujah – Christmas Concert at Christ Church, Old City Jerusalem
December 27, 2013 10:30am
Hallelujah Concert with the Charlotta Corale of Tel Aviv.
The concert, performed by the “Charlotta Corale of Tel Aviv” choir, takes place in Christ Church across the road from the Tower of David Museum. The classical music is a moving tribute to “A Hope for Peace and Friendship.” The ensemble performs throughout the world.
Conductor, Eli Gefen, has a rich background in classical music as a leading baritone soloist in Israel and a bassoon player in the Israel Cameri Orchestra.
For more information or telephone: 972 2 6265333

Christmas in Bethlehem (PA)

Visitors to Bethlehem, just six miles south of Jerusalem, get to experience the annual Midnight Mass in the Basilica of the Nativity (tickets only), preceded by the ceremonial welcoming of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem to Bethlehem (1pm).

The Israel Ministry of Tourism will offer free transportation, helping pilgrims travelling between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Buses will leave according to demand from Mar Elias Monastery to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, and back again and will operate non-stop from noon on 24 December through to noon on 25 December.

Representatives from the Ministry of Tourism will welcome tourists and pilgrims at Rachel’s Crossing with a gift bag containing a set of coasters depicting scenes of Israel and chocolate in the spirit of the holiday.

Christmas in Nazareth

Nazareth hosts a traditional Christmas market, selling Christmas decorations, gifts etc, in the area around Mary’s Well. The festive lighting of the Christmas tree, located by the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, took place on 11 December. On Christmas Eve, December 24, 2013, the traditional parade of thousands of local youth, together with the leaders of the Christian communities, will pass through Nazareth from 15:00. The parade ends at the plaza in front of the Basilica with a firework display, sponsored by the Tourism Ministry, to announce the opening of the festive Christmas celebrations (17:30). Christmas Mass will be celebrated in the Basilica of the Annunciation at 19:00.

On Christmas Day, all Catholic Churches in the city hold Mass services. At the Church of the Annunciation the first Mass will begin at 07:00. At 10:00, a festive Mass will take place.

Christmas in Tel Aviv-Yafo

The Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality has placed a huge Christmas tree (15 meters high and with a 6.5 meter diameter) in the Andromeda compound in Jaffa, between Yefet St and Louis Pasteur St. The festive lighting took place on December 8 with fireworks and a laser show and will stay lit throughout the month of December.  Yefet Street will also be lit with festive Christmas lights.