Christmas in Nazareth

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Christmas in Nazareth

Silent night, holy night…

Like the three wise men following a star, pilgrims have been following an inner calling to the Holy Land where baby Jesus was born. For over 2,000 years the simple event has been observed across the world as a season of joy – Christmas.

Indeed, Christmas in Nazareth is of particular significance as it was here that it all started when archangel Gabriel first appeared to Virgin Mary and informed her that she had been bestrode with the divine gift of a son who was to be named Jesus. Today the Basilica of the Annunciation rises towards the heavens in dramatic fashion over the very spot where Mary’s encounter with the archangel took place.

Similarly, the adjoining Church of St Joseph stands over the house of the Holy Family in which Jesus grew up and helped his carpenter father fashion wood. Further down the road, the Greek Orthodox Church towers protectively above the ancient well from which Mary (often accompanied by Jesus) collected water for her family each day.

In addition, there are a number of other places associated with events in Jesus’ life, like the rock on which he first appeared to the apostles after his resurrection. Today the rock is the central altar of the church that has been built around it.

But for all its efforts to preserve its holy legacy, Nazareth, with a resident population of over 100,000, is a far cry from the little town of 10 to 15 families that Jesus knew. To get a feel of what it might have been like at the dawn of the AD era, one may visit the neighboring hilltop village of Kfar Kedem where the residents have recreated a delightful little biblical town. In keeping with the spirit of the place, visitors are encouraged to wear traditional robes and headscarves, crush olives on a manually operated oil press, bake bread on an open wood fire oven, ride a donkey, take sheep out to the pasture and even partake in the biblical meal which tops off the wonderful adventure.

Gustasp & Jeroo Irani

Gustasp & Jeroo Irani are a husband and wife team of travel writers/photographers, more accurately, travel junkies always on the lookout for the next fix, the next trip... They have travelled across India and the world. But eventually they return to the city they call home: Mumbai The footloose couple have edited Indian travel magazines, researched and written two guides for South African Tourism in India. Gustasp is the author of the book Once Upon a Raj