Christmas in Bethlehem | Part Two

Christmas in Bethlehem, Maison Everett Blog
(Read part one of this story here). We woke up on Christmas Eve to the early morning light and the crow of a rooster from a home nearby. I joined the sisters in the convent chapel as they sang Latin hymns and a visiting priest from Colorado said mass. It was a peaceful start to what would become a loud, boisterous day. As the town began to prepare for the day’s events, we could hear drums and bagpipes drifting from streets below. Parades marched through the streets all day and the celebrations lasted long into the night.
Christmas in Bethlehem, Maison Everett Blog
Christmas in Bethlehem, Maison Everett in Bethlehem
Our little music lover couldn’t get ten feet without wanting to stomp and dance…
Christmas in Bethlehem, Maison Everett Blog Christmas in Bethlehem, Maison Everett Blog Christmas in Bethlehem, Maison Everett Blog
We made our way through the crowds over to a more quiet street that led to The Milk Grotto. Tradition says that Joseph, Mary and Jesus found shelter in this cave during the Slaughter of the Innocents, before their flight to Egypt. It gets its name from the belief that a drop of Mary’s milk fell to the ground turning the entire cave white. It serves as a pilgrimage site where many women, both Christmas and Muslim alike, will pray for wombs that are barren and for the gift of life. There is a chapel (left) that is built over the grotto (right)…
Christmas in Bethlehem, Maison Everett Blog Christmas in Bethlehem, Maison Everett Blog
Further down the same road, we passed several woodworking shops. There were a few men working that day, and they invited us in to show how they make everything – the nativity sets, rosaries, ornaments, all the other wooden pieces in the shops – by hand. All of them were so excited that were made the visit, and per usual, they all adored Remy.
Christmas in Bethlehem, Maison Everett Blog Christmas in Bethlehem, Maison Everett Blog
Christmas in Bethlehem, Maison Everett Blog
He carved out a piece just for Remy to take with him. It was his own little puzzle…
Christmas in Bethlehem, Maison Everett Blog
Christmas in Bethlehem, Maison Everett Blog
We continued on, back down toward Manger Square where the crowds and marching bands congregated outside of Saint Catherine Church – the church where they hold midnight mass every Christmas. We attempted to get tickets months in advance but it didn’t work out. I don’t think I would have gone anyway because the crowds were a little overwhelming, and the mass lasted 2.5 hours…mostly in Arabic! Instead, we enjoyed a traditional Christmas Eve dinner at the convent with the sisters and other guests. The warmth and comfort of a delicious home-cooked meal was the perfect way to end the day.
Christmas in Bethlehem, Maison Everett Blog
Christmas in Bethlehem, Maison Everett Blog Christmas in Bethlehem, Maison Everett Blog Christmas in Bethlehem, Maison Everett Blog Christmas in Bethlehem, Maison Everett Blog
Christmas in Bethlehem, Maison Everett Blog
We enjoyed breakfast on Christmas morning, and then made the trip back to Tel Aviv to celebrate Christmas as a family (grandma was with us, too). It was one we’ll never forget!

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