After two years of the pandemic, the city of Bethlehem is full of joy again. Santa Claus is handing out delicious local cookies. Children are running in the old town of Bethlehem. People are taking photos and singing in front of the Christmas tree.
Last week we lit up the Christmas tree in Bethlehem. Locals - Muslims and Christians - stood alongside international visitors in Manger Square to light the Christmas tree. Only 30 meters from the place where Jesus was born, bands played, local products were sold, and the smell of falafel filled the air.
This week the Christmas celebrations will start, and once again the city will be full of tourists. Local scouts will walk down Star Street to the north entrance of the Old City and welcome the Patriarch as he arrives from Jerusalem to start the Christmas midnight mass.
I invite you to join me in Manger Square to watch midnight mass on the big screen with a glass of delicious local wine. Together, we will wish the world a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the city of Christmas.