Celebrating Christmas in Israel; the Jewish homeland…This year 2022 promises to be a special time to visit Israel during the Christmas holiday; we are hopefully post Covid and heading in the right direction! For the past 2 plus years Covid brought the entire tourist and travel industry to a screeching halt but now thankfully, travelers are returning to Israel in droves for a much needed dose of “The Holy Land”. Although the Jewish homeland has a small Christian population, pre-Covid there were over 2 Million Christian visitors per year.
Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights usually precedes Christmas. However, this year (2022), Hanukkah starts a week before (December 18) and overlaps Christmas day. This means that throughout the country you will observe the iconic symbols of the celebration of Hanukkah in addition to three Christmas celebrations.
In many parts of the world, Christmas season has unfortunately become very commercialized with an emphasis on shopping, gifts and material items.
In contrast, many visitors find Christmas time in Israel to be much more spiritual and meaningful.
A festive atmosphere fills the air arousing all of your senses!
Of course, like any holiday anywhere, there is the FOOD! During the holidays, a special local treat are these luscious holiday donuts called Sufganyot. You can find them everywhere but my favorite place has to be the Mamilla outdoor mall just outside of the old City in Jerusalem at a bakery/coffee shop called Roladin.
The Mamilla mall is a very exclusive outdoor and indoor shopping plaza featuring all of the top name brands and designer everything. This is a Must Do on any visit to Israel but definitely during the holiday season.
Christmas in Israel 2022- My Top Recommendations for Things to Do
- Jerusalem – The tomb of Jesus at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Midnight Mass as well as a walk down the Via Dolorosa, and Arab market in Old City of Jerusalem. The cool crisp air and vibe of Jerusalem will make it feel a lot closer to Christmas back home (Midwestern U.S. for me).
- Bethlehem (only a few short miles from the Old City) is The Church of the Nativity and the legendary underground grotto where the 14-pointed star is located (believed to mark the exact location where Jesus was born). There’s also the carol sing-a-long in Manger Square and a Midnight Mass next door at Church of St. Catherine. I highly recommend a guided Christmas Ever tour from either Tel Aviv or Jerusalem (see below).
- Nazareth – The annual Christmas Parade on Christmas Eve starting at 15:00. There’s also a Midnight Mass in the Basilica of the Annunciation, and don’t miss the Christmas market in Nazareth! Also, the annual lighting of the Christmas tree located at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation currently scheduled for December 6.
- Haifa – Known as a multi-cultural city offers the authentic multicultural experience Hanukkah, Eid-al-Adha, and Christmas in the Holiday of Holidays festival, which is held annually in Haifa’s Wadi Nas neighborhood. This celebration of Jewish, Muslim and Christian holidays highlights Haifa’s interfaith harmony and cooperation. These celebrations carry on through much of December. A must see is the German Colony where you will find endless waves of Christmas lights and decorations. I have visited there several times during the holidays and it is truly magnificent!
- Tel Aviv – The old City of Jaffa (Yafo) is where you can find a traditional winter taste of home. Featuring the Jaffa Winter Festival in the Port of Jaffa on December 22-23. An amazing sight not to be missed is the lighting of the Christmas tree at the Clock tower (entrance to Jaffa) on December 15th between 5:30-8 P.M.
Christmas in Israel – Bethlehem Christmas Eve Tours
Join pilgrims, locals and tourists as they gather for this unique experience and see Bethlehem come alive with the Christmas spirit!
For those also wanting a guided tour of Bethlehem, visiting each of the holy sites, check out our Bethlehem Christmas Tour.
Come celebrate Christmas in the place it all began! Join us for an unforgettable Christmas in Bethlehem, see the city, visit the Church of Nativity, dine in a local restaurant and join pilgrims from around the world in celebration.
Join pilgrims, locals and tourists as they gather for this unique experience and see Bethlehem come alive with the Christmas spirit ! Check out our Bethlehem Christmas Eve tour.
Bethlehem itself where we will stop at the Manger Square in the center of town to visit the most prominent holy sites in Bethlehem – the Church of Nativity and the Milk Grotto.