Christians living in Jerusalem are being offered free Christmas trees to celebrate the upcoming holiday.
However, it is not Father Christmas handing out the gifts. The trees are being paid for by the city’s local council, an action that has drawn criticism in the past by people who think it is as an unacceptable promotion of religion by a Jewish government.
In his annual Christmas address, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal highlighted Christians as a part of this year’s Arab Spring uprisings:
“We continue to follow closely what happened and what is happening in the Arab countries. I have always defended the changes taking place in favour of freedom and democracy. We have repeatedly emphasised that Christians are not excluded from these movements,” he said.
Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity, built on what Christians believe to be the birthplace of Jesus, could become a World Heritage Site now that UNESCO has allowed Palestine to join its membership.