Bethlehem, the ancient town in the Judean hills, once more becomes the focal point for the would's Christians as December the 25th approaches.
GV AND CU: Flags outside municipal building in Manger Square, Bethlehem and street sign (2 shots)
LV AND CU: Christmas tree being decorated (2 shots)
LV AND SV: Israeli soldiers patrolling streets (2 shots)
GV: Woman with basket on head moving through street
GV AND CU: Tourists out of bus and taking photographs. (3 shots)
GV ZOOM INTO SV: Sign over building 'Bethlehem Souvenir Enterprise'
SV: Entrance gift shots of Nativity Store, Bethlehem Gift Store with mother of pearl nativity items in window (2 shots)
SV INTERIOR: Customers inspecting mother of pearl plague
GV EXTERIOR: PAN AND SV EXTERIOR: Of church of the Nativity with people entering (3 shots)
SV INTERIOR: Service in progress. (2 shots)
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Background: Bethlehem, the ancient town in the Judean hills, once more becomes the focal point for the would's Christians as December the 25th approaches. Pilgrims have begun flowing into the birthplace of Christ to refresh their spiritual lives, and the town's merchants are busily attending to the commercial patina of this profound moment in the Christian calendar.
SYNOPSIS: In a central square, a small blue sign has a universal impact. The physical trapping for the season reappear...a Christmas tree slotted into its accustomed place close by the mang???, which was a cave close to the village when Christ was born almost two thousand years ago. No decorations anywhere are more carefully prepared and hung.
Patrols of Israeli soldiers toting firearms show that the quest for the Christmas message: 'Peace on earth, goodwill to all men' has no easy path in the troubled Middle East. The citizens of Bethlehem, however, are used to the visibility of the uniforms, and the influx of visitors in late December. The visitors themselves want evidence of their stay to uplift them during Christmases to come.
Merchants here have the edge of on their counterparts elsewhere in the world, because it's said that Christmases in Bethlehem lasts all year round. Nativity scenes engraved in mother of pearl are a standard item. Yet some Bethlehem traders are not excited by the cash flow of Christmas -- they say the pickings are higher in summertime.
The inner core of what the season means for millions of Christians is here, in the famed Church of the Nativity.
This is, in fact three churches - for the Greek Orthodox Faith, for the Armenian Church and the Roman Catholic Church of St Catherine. All three faiths have access to the Grotto of the Nativity, observing a strictly guarded set of ritual demarcations. Some visitors say it seems at certain times of day as if the whole of Bethlehem is at prayer. Inside this scared building that impression is closest to reality on Christmas Day.