This content is not available in your region

Christmas Eve crowds flock to Bethlehem

Access to the comments Comments
By Euronews
Christmas Eve crowds flock to Bethlehem

<p>Christian pilgrims from around the world have been gathering this Christmas Eve in Bethlehem – revered as the birthplace of Jesus.</p> <p>Rev. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the acting Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, will lead Midnight Mass.</p> <p>Before that, crowds in the main Manger Square have been enjoying traditional marching band parades.</p> <p>Israeli-Palestinian violence in the occupied West Bank has driven tourists away in the past but a relative calm this year means Bethlehem really can boast again that there is no room at the inn.</p> <p>“It is amazing. I came to see the birthplace of our Lord Saviour Jesus Christ,” said US tourist Tracy Wade.</p> <p>“I am a Christian so this is a very special time and special place for me. I love the fact that I am able to go in here and visit the place where Christ was born, here in Bethlehem. I feel very fortunate and blessed.”</p> <br /> <p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="fr"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Crowds gather in Bethlehem ahead of Christmas midnight mass <a href="https://t.co/d05iTYqbbc">https://t.co/d05iTYqbbc</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Bethlehem?src=hash">#Bethlehem</a></p>— AFP news agency (@AFP) <a href="https://twitter.com/AFP/status/812619037243019264">24 décembre 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></p> <br /> <p>Tourism is a major source of revenue for the Palestinian economy – and provides livelihoods for about 5,000 families in Bethlehem, which has some 5,000 rooms in 46 hotels.</p> <p>The main attractions in Bethlehem are the 4th-century Church of the Nativity, built over a grotto where Christian tradition says Jesus was born, and the Christmas tree in Manger Square, where choirs sing carols during the holiday period.</p> <p>While the security situation is more relaxed now, Israeli roadblocks and a six-metre Israeli-built concrete separation barrier snaking through the landscape are still part of the Bethlehem vista.</p> <p><em>with Reuters</em></p>