Christmas in Bethlehem goes on in the shadow of Trump’s Jerusalem announcement; Eetta Prince-Gibson; PRI

Palestine – Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem

As usual, Palestinians in the West Bank city of Bethlehem are hosting Christmas festivities for thousands of visitors to the site where Jesus Christ is believed to have been born. But this year, US President Donald Trump’s controversial decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has caused tensions and dampened the holiday mood. 

On an unseasonably warm night, a few days before Christmas, Manger Square in the West Bank city of Bethlehem is lit with thousands of bright lights and a huge, twinkling Christmas tree. In the center of the square, a large manger scene has been set up, and parents explain the birth of Jesus Christ to their children. Vendors hawk Christmas decorations and sahlab, a traditional drink made from the ground-up bulbs of orchids.

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