Christmas in Jerusalem

Linda Eller-SheinChristmas in Jerusalem

If you want to really connect with the spirit of Christmas, one of the best places in the world to do it is the holy city of Jerusalem.  The whole city shines with festive lights and its narrow streets take you back to where it all began.

In the Old City, there is a famous route called the Via Dolorosa which marks the path that Jesus walked on the way to his crucifixion.  Thousands of pilgrims from all over the world come every Christmas to walk this route.  In an unforgettable display of faith, some worshipers walk with the cross of Christ over their shoulders.  The route is about 600 meters (around 2000 feet) and starts at the Antonia Fortress and ends at the Church of the Holy Sepulchure.    Watch this video for more details.

Christmas in Jerusalem
Pilgrims walking through the Via Dolorosa. Photograph courtesty of Yossi Rubanenko.

Jerusalem has churches of every denomination and they all have beautiful Christmas services.  The most famous services are held at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Pontifical Institute, Notre Dame Center (which holds multi-lingual masses).  For the full list of services please visit here.

Churches in Jerusalem
A map of the main churches in the Old City of Jerusalem

During your stay in Jerusalem you should also take the time to visit the YMCA which offers a wide variety of special events for the holiday.  The annual Christmas Concert is held on Christmas Eve and is a truly unforgettable experience.  Over 80 singers and musicians perform Christmas songs and guest performers include the Jerusalem Street Orchestra, Oratorio Jerusalem Choir, the Jerusalem Youth Choir, and the YMCA Academy Orchestra.  The YMCA also offers a Christmas market, children shows and a night bar.

Christmas at YMCA Jerusalem
Christmas at the YMCA in Jerusalem.  Photograph courtesty of Linda Eller-Shein

A little-known fact is that Jerusalem is home to Santa Claus. Deep inside the old city is a little house, decorated all year round with Christmas ornaments.  In it, a qualified Santa (who graduated from the University of Santa Claus) welcomes children and their parents from all over the world and offers them a unique Jerusalem-style Christmas.  Santa’s home is completely non-profit and based on donations only.  Its goal is to spread joy and happiness to children around the world.

Santa Claus
Fun with Santa. Photograph courtesy of Pexels