Holiday season

Israelis brace for holiday season with nationwide celebrations

Holiday events in December are plentiful and although the new variant of Covid Omicron has excluded international visitors for the time being, locals are encouraged to travel across the country to participate in the uniqueness of each of the events.

“December is a month full of activities and holidays, especially in cities with mixed populations. The streets are decorated with lights, colorful decorations and symbols of the different holidays, lots of events take place, delicious food everywhere you turn, ”tour guide Ruth Ben-Ami told NoCamels. “Hanukkah and Christmas together produce a festival full of light and delicious food. “

Israelis are known as avid travelers with no destination too far away. Elisa Leopold Moed, founder of Israel-based travel agency Travelujah, says Israelis can only benefit from being tourists in their own country.

Santa Claus makes an appearance in Tel Aviv-Jaffa. Courtesy of Tel Aviv Municipality

Additionally, she says Israel’s decision to bar foreign travelers from entering Israel has created a rare opportunity for locals to enjoy some of the country’s most important Christian sites without the crowds.

“It’s a great opportunity to go out to places you don’t necessarily visit on a daily basis and experience other cultures. There is no better way to learn more about the people around us and to celebrate with them in their traditions, ”she says. “It’s a beautiful thing.”

Shelley Brinn, director of Tour Adumim, says the country is full of “hidden gems in every region”.

“With international tourism at a standstill due to the pandemic, now [is] the perfect time to explore our small but wonderful country, ”Brinn told NoCamels. “It’s time to see what each region of our country has to offer. I think we will all be surprised.

There are too many different events going on in the country to list them all. NoCamels highlights a few of the main ones for Hanukkah, Christmas, and Novy God below.


YMCA Christmas Eve Concert

“We are very excited with this year’s celebrations and look forward to meeting the general public and the friends of the YMCA, who have been missed so much over the past two years. It has been a difficult time for us and for the world, and we definitely intend to uplift the morale of the city and all of its inhabitants: Christians, Muslims and Jews – people of all faiths, ”said Rana Fahoum. , CEO of Jerusalem International. YMCA.

The traditional Christmas Eve concert in Jerusalem will take place on Friday, December 24, 2021 at the YMCA auditorium and will feature dozens of singers. Outside the auditorium and before the concert, there will be a performance of the YMCA steeple. Free entry.

There is also a festively decorated Christmas tree on the YMCA lawn that will remain standing until mid-January 2022.

“I invite everyone to join us for the celebrations and embrace the important ‘YMCA Message’ of uniting all people who believe in coexistence, solidarity and the pursuit of good,” said Fahoum. .

Christmas in the old town

The many churches in the old town of Jeursalem hold Christmas concerts and church services, and many open their doors to tourists. Before the pandemic, pilgrims from all over the world gathered to walk along the Via Dolorosa carrying crosses, just as tradition has it that Jesus carried the cross on his back. Moed recommends 10 sites for midnight mass in Jerusalem and Bethlehem on his travel site.

“Christmas is an important holiday for Christians. You don’t need to celebrate, but to be there for a Mass, to seize the opportunity and to be there and to see what a Mass looks like, it could be a great experience, ”says Moed.

Hanu Christmas Run

The HanuChristmas race takes place on the evening of December 5 and will follow a 7 kilometer route through the New and Old Towns. The run is meant to promote Jewish and Christian cultural histories and give a different perspective to the Hanukkah and Christmas holidays.

Tel Aviv-Yafo

Christmas tree at the Clock Tower

December brings a month-long celebration to Tel Aviv-Jaffa. Outdoor events with cultural ties to Christmas, Hanukkah and the birth of the Prophet Muhammad help the city nonstop live up to its nickname.

Christmas in Jaffa in 2019. Photo: Peter Lives via Tel Aviv Municipality
Christmas in Jaffa in 2019. Photo: Peter Lives via Tel Aviv Municipality

Sunday, December 5, is the illumination of the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Christmas tree at 5.30 p.m. at the clock tower. The 15-meter-high tree will be illuminated every evening until January 19.

“It’s always beautiful to walk around Jaffa and Haifa at night,” says Moed, noting how garlands and lights illuminate the cities.

Lighting Chanukah candles in city squares

Municipality of Hannukah
Hanukkah menorah against the backdrop of Tel Aviv city hall. Courtesy of Tel Aviv Municipality

Tonight is the last night to attend an outdoor hanukkiyah lighting ceremony. The city’s biggest public candlelight events take place at Habima Square (5:00 p.m.) and Rabin Square (6:00 p.m.). Group singing became a major risk at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, but as long as the distance is maintained and respiratory particles are not shared, tonight is the last night to go out and sing Chanukah songs with friends, family and complete strangers.

Christmas market in the Neve Golan district

There is a local Christmas market scheduled for the weekend of December 10-11, at the Neve Golan Pool in the residential South Jaffa district. While not as impressive as European Advent markets, the market offers a slice of local folklore, artisan stalls, and family-friendly activities.

Interactive vacation facilities

The City Peloton studio – aka architects Anat and Ilan Behrman – is back with three in situ urban installations.

The colorful light installation of giant dreidels (spinning tops) will be open until December 8, at the entrance to Jaffa (rue Yefet-Wolfson Square). The facility is a great place for a fun game of hide and seek.

The studio, which created the facilities for the municipality, will erect a second interactive installation of a giant hanukkiyah in Clock Tower Square from December 28 to January 7.

City Peloton
The installation of dreidel by City Peloton in Jaffa. Photo by Ilan Spira.

And the four giant snow globes are on site in Hotel Setai Square until January 7. The snow globes feature handcrafted wood carvings inside. Children and adults are encouraged to step on the pedal next to each globe to create a gust of wind and snowfall inside the orbs.

One meter tall wooden dreidels

There are only two days left to do your best spinning a three-foot tall wooden dreidel at Tel Aviv Port. One of the traditions of the Hanukkah holiday is to spin a dreidel – or sevivon, as it is called in Hebrew. According to tradition, when the ancient Greeks banned Torah study, Jewish children would gather in secret to continue their learning and if a Greek soldier asked them what they were doing, they would pretend to be playing with dreidels. The dreidel is a special spinning top for Hanukkah and has four letters engraved on its sides: in Israel the letters are Nun, Gimel, Hay and Peh while outside Israel the letters are Nun, Gimel, Hay, Shin. The letters represent the first letter of each word in the Hebrew phrase “A great miracle has taken place there (for those outside Israel) / here (for those in Israel)”.

Installation of meter-high wooden dreidels by the City Peloton studio on display at the Tel Aviv port. Photo: @portlv / Instagram

The installation of wooden dreidels is open to all and is installed on the main deck of the Port, near the arena until December 6.

Winter photography

Omicron has visited the snow-capped Swiss mountains on this year’s travel list, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go to Jaffa for a white Christmas photo. Five winter photo sets have been erected at the Amiad Cultural Center in Jaffa Flea Market and you are invited to stand alongside penguins, pose for a mock sleigh ride, or see what the backdrop looks like snowy magical on your social media charges. The popup photo studio experience is free for everyone – the props are there; visitors should bring in the people and ideas for each photo. Open until January 7.


Holiday Party

The holiday celebration is back after a two-year pandemic hiatus, and visitors from across the country can once again sample traditional foods, listen to the sounds of their favorite local bands, and wander through art exhibits.

An initiative of Beit Ha’Gefen – Arab-Jewish Cultural Center and the Municipality of Haifa, the Holiday of Holidays event was launched in 1993, as a festival to “promote and foster tolerance and mutual respect through culture and art ”.
Cultural diversity is in the spotlight during this three-weekend event (December 2-4, 9-11, 16-18) which includes, among other things, two Christmas parades, liturgical music concerts and luck to meet a trilingual Santa Claus at his house in the Wadi Nisnas district of Haifa.

Head to the German Colony at the foot of the Bahá’í Gardens for the best photo backdrop in the country – complete with an illuminated Christmas tree, hanukkiah and crescent, and the Bahá’í Shrine.

Ramat hasharon

An Israeli Novy God celebration is scheduled to take place from December 30 to January 1 at the Florentine Circus of Kfar Hayarok. Novy God, the Russian expression for the New Year, is a secular, non-religious celebration with its own traditions and decorations. This event will feature traditional music, dancing and food as well as jaw-dropping circus acts and a family-oriented snowflake-making activity.


The Nazareth Christmas Market is now underway and is expected to run until December 11 (5-10 p.m., daily). But Nazareth’s biggest tourist draw – besides the vacation services in the city’s churches – is the traditional Temple of Mary Christmas procession along St. Paul VI (December 24, 2:30 p.m.).

Christmas in Nazareth.  December 2017. Photos submission
Christmas in Nazareth. December 2017. Photos submission

“It’s exciting to see the Christmas parade in Jerusalem and the procession in Nazareth. These are opportunities to discover another religion, another culture and see how they are celebrated, ”explains Moed. “Israelis should visit the amazing Christian sites around Israel, and now is the time when there is no tourism. Go out and discover nature and religious sites, you won’t see them like that again, go and discover them. ”

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