The Manger Square in Bethlehem, 2011.

No lights in Bethlehem’s Christmas, in solidarity with the martyrs

PNN/Bethlehem

The city of Bethlehem is known for its holy Christian sites, since it’s identified as the birthplace of Jesus Christ. So, being the birth of Jesus, the city enjoys wide popularity especially during Christmas time.

The Church of the Nativity is the place where Christians believe Jesus was born. It was the first among the three churches built by the Emperor Constantine in the early fourth century AD when Christianity became the official state religion in 326 AD.

In 2012, the Nativity Church and the old city of Bethlehem were added to the list of World Heritage Sites, to become the, Church of the Nativity is the first Palestinian sites to be registered within the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Every year the city receives thousands of tourists: some because of their religion and some because of the beauty of the city’s tradition on this time of the year.

However, this year, the municipality of Bethlehem decided not to make the Christmas celebrations as it does every year: the events will happen but in a quiet and less lightening way.

Monjed Jado interviewing Vera Babun, the Bethlehem's mayor.
Monjed Jado interviewing Vera Babun, the Bethlehem’s mayor.

Vera Babun, the city’s mayor spoke to PNN about the decision of changing some of the planning events. “We are not cancelling the events: all the events from today until the end of the 24th will be taking place. But we, for example, replaced the fireworks in the tree lightening with the ringing of the bells, the ringing of the bells of Bethlehem”.

The municipality also chose not to put too much of decoration this year and to not make any musical concerts in respect with the families of the martyrs and with the situation itself.

Despite the tense situation in Bethlehem, Babun argued that “Bethlehem is the city of peace” and that “with all what is taking place on the ground, the death of martyrs, the injured all the days, as we approach Christmas, we pray, we pray for peace”.

Babun also added that “as long as the political situation [in Palestine] is not stable, the tourism situation is also not stable”, once that the daily confrontations can scare some tourists.

When asked by our reporter what she would like the media to transmit about Palestine, Vera was emphatic: “The reality. I would like the media to reflect the reality. It’s not what others want to hear, but the reality that should be shown”.

On the third of December, the annual municipality press conference will be held in the Manger Square, in Bethlehem. And on the fifteen of December the Christmas tree will be lighted.