In spite of the blockade, closures, arrests, killings, settlements, and
the Wall, the Christmas tree will be lit on Friday night. Rarely has
anything been able to stop the lighting, albeit some years the mood is
less festive than others.

The official lighting will take place with Bethlehem's Mayor, Dr. Victor Batarsa, a representative of President Abbas, officials and organizational representatives.

All will gather in front of the Church of Nativity on Friday evening to begin the celebratory period of the month of Christmas that includes the common date for the western Christmas of the 24 and 25 December, and then the Armenian Christmas on 6 January, and Orthodox Christmas on 7 January.

The Christmas tree lighting is among the manifestations of the traditional celebrations that carry on throughout Bethlehem. Crowds gather in front of the Church and in Manger Square, hold a candle, and say a word for Rafah or Jenin, or wherever is being hardest hit that year. And then the tree is lit.

Official city sources say that this is the symbolic expression of illuminating the birth of Jesus Christ in our holy city.

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