Thousands visit Bethlehem on Christmas Eve

by
December 25, 2011

By Dalia Nammari-Associated Press

BETHLEHEM, West Bank (AP) — Thousands of pilgrims, tourists and local Christians gathered in the biblical West Bank town of Bethlehem on Saturday to begin Christmas Eve celebrations in the traditional birthplace of Jesus.

Visitors gathered near the 50-foot (15-meter) Christmas tree at Manger Square Saturday morning, taking pictures and enjoying the sunshine.

The main event will be Midnight Mass at the Church of the Nativity, built over the location where Jesus is believed to have been born.

Israel’s Tourism Ministry said it expects 90,000 tourists to visit the Holy Land for the holiday. Ministry spokeswoman Lydia Weitzman said that number is the same as last year’s record-breaking tally, but was surprisingly high considering the turmoil in the Arab world and the U.S. and European economic downturns.

To read more, visit:  http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/dec/24/thousands-visit-bethlehem-christmas-eve/

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