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Palestinian Christians Celebrate in Bethlehem

December 25, 2011 2011-12-25 17:48:43

BEIJING, Dec. 25, 2011 (Xinhuanet) --

The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem's Manger Square is built on the site where Christians believe Mary gave birth to Jesus in a cattle shed, and laid him in an animal's feeding trough, also known as a manger. Every Christmas, it attracts thousands of pilgrims, tourists and local Christians, especially.

Bethelehem. Where Christians believe Jesus was born.

A huge Christmas tree dominates the center of the Manger Square.

Christians began flocking to Bethlehem early on Saturday to celebrate.

This Christmas comes following a tumultuous year of political upheaval and change across the Arab world.

Palestine’s push for UN statehood, the crisis in Syria, protests in Egypt.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has also arrived in Bethlehem. During dinner at the Church of the Nativity, he called for peace in the Middle East.

Abbas said: "First I would like to congratulate all of you on the Holy Christmas, we ask God that this Christmas will bring all of us, and our brothers, and our Christian brothers a better year full of peace, love and prosperity. And regarding the Palestinian people, to have a year in which we will achieve peace in the Holy Palestinian land."

The square is filled with excited visitors celebrating with traditional music.

Festivities are to continue into the night and culminate with a celebration of the Midnight Mass by Latin Patriarch Fuad Twal, the most senior Catholic bishop in the Middle East.

He’s expected to deliver a message of hope for peace in the Middle East and around the world.


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