It’s Christmas time in Palestine and all eyes are on Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus. The city’s Christmas trees are up and the streets of Bethlehem are covered in festive lights and decorations.
To the ordinary person, things in Manger Square might seem normal, like any other Christmas. People are trickling in and out of the Nativity Church, while others have come to take photos in front of Bethlehem’s Christmas tree.
But despite the festive atmosphere, Palestinians in Bethlehem know that this year their Christmas is going to be anything but normal.
But despite the festive atmosphere, Palestinians in Bethlehem know that this year their Christmas is going to be anything but the usual. But this year was really hard on everyone, on all the countries of the world.
In Israel, the churches are closed, social life has come to a stop, there are no gatherings, there are even no family relations anymore. I can’t even visit my sister or visit my brother because of the Corona-virus.
In recent weeks Corona-virus cases have surged in the occupied West Bank with the Bethlehem district seeing some of the highest rates of infection.
Due to the latest round of Corona-virus lock downs Bethlehem is as quiet as ever. Even prayers have to be done inside the house.
The streets are relatively empty, shops are closed, and Palestinian families are once again rounded up in their homes, forced to make major changes not only to their daily lives, but to their yearly Christmas celebrations as well.
For Palestinian families, one of the hardest realities they’ve had to face this year is the loss of timeless, quintessential, Bethlehem Christmas traditions. This year, the ceremony was held virtually, and people were forced to watch the celebrations from afar.
Like midnight mass at the Church of Nativity, and the lighting of the city’s Christmas tree, an occasion that typically draws thousands of people from all over the world.
From Bethlehem Palestine to the rest of the world, Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all those celebrating.
Mondoweiss / ABC Flash Point News 2020.