Pilgrims gather in Bethlehem on Christmas Eve
Thousands of Christian pilgrims from all over the world gathered Christmas Eve in Bethlehem on the West Bank to celebrate Christmas at the alleged birthplace of Jesus Christus. Although the majority of Palestinians are Muslim, there is a sizeable Christian minority.
The highlight for those who come to Bethlehem on Christmas Eve is the Midnight Mass in the Nativity Church, which stands on the spot where Christians believe the stable and manger was situated on Christmas Eve some 2,000 years ago. This year, visitors can admire the Nativity Church‘s newly restored mosaic that has been both cleaned and repaired in what has been a major restoration.
The Catholic Archbishop of the Holy Land, Pierbattista Pizzaballa, will lead the Midnight Mass, where it is expected that, among others, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (PLO) will attend.
Before the Midnight Mass, the annual parade of Palestinian scouts with drums and bagpipes parades through the city.
Bethlehem has had more visitors this season than in a long time. Palestinian tourist authorities and hotel owners report that they have had their best season of several years.
Several Norwegians yearly attend the festivities in Bethlehem.
© NTB scanpix / #Norway Today