Christmas goes relatively unnoticed in the country of Israel. Only 2% of the population observes the holiday and this small celebration is lost amidst the Menorahs and Chanukahs of Jewish Hanukkah and the feasting of the Muslim Eid al-Adha. Nevertheless, some places make a special effort to draw attention to the holiday in a unique way.
In the boyhood home of Jesus, Nazareth Village is celebrating the season by presenting its eighth annual re-creation of the Nativity story in a series of guided evening tours. Guests are invited to walk by candle light along a path following Joseph and Mary on the donkey as a guide re-tells the timeless story of the birth of Jesus.
Along the way villagers dressed in authentic period clothing re-enact life in first century Nazareth. At a sheepfold, the tour culminates with a living manger scene and the final passages of scripture are quoted as everyone has the opportunity to see Mary, Joseph and the Baby Jesus. Groups are encouraged to bring along guitars and music to sing with at the end of tours.
In an article by Lou Marano from the United Press titled “Through Armageddon, to Nazareth and beyond” the following was written:
“In Nazareth, the lovely Basilica of the Annunciation is built over the grotto where, tradition has it, the angel Gabriel informed Mary of the impending birth of Jesus. But for those interested in history and antiquities as well as religion, the living exhibits, tours and excavations at Nazareth Village are a must.
It’s hard to do justice to this surprise highlight in this brief space. It is a full-scale recreation — restoration, actually — of a slice of the village in Jesus’ time — including homes, storage caves and a synagogue — set on the last remaining field that has been farmed since the 1st century. Arab villagers herd sheep and tend crops in authentic period dress.
On the original hillside terraces grow the crops of ancient Galilee — olives, almonds, grapes, wheat, barley, figs, and carob. After an informative tour of the study center, our Christian guide showed us a wine press carved into rock dating from Jesus’ time. With Bible in hand, he led us through the fields, explaining the agricultural context of Jesus’ parables in ways that are enlightening even to those very familiar with the stories.”
Two candlelight tours are available each evening at 5:00 or 6:30. Please see below for dates.
December 17, 18, 20, 21, 22, 27, 28, 29
Call for reservations and availability: 04-645-6042
Prices: 20 NIS adults
10 NIS children (ages 5 – 15)
Children under 5—free
Herbal tea and cookies for everyone!