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Christmas

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Christmas is one of the most anticipated holidays of the year in Palestine, as both Muslims and Christians enjoy the celebrations with family and friends. In Bethlehem, the festivities are over the top with marching bands, a tree lighting ceremony, fireworks, and a visit from the Palestinian president. Each year thousands of people from all over the world travel to Manger Square in December to experience Christmas in the birthplace of Jesus. Yet, the Israeli occupation is never too far from people’s minds.

By mid-afternoon on Christmas Eve crowds had thinned from the limestone plaza that is Manger Square, buffering Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity and its winding old city. International tourists lingered, but the bulk of the celebrators were Palestinians—Christian and Muslim alike. A handful of children under ten years old wore costumes and sold candies for 25-cents.