Christmas decorations and seasonal preparations have been appearing in varying number and intensity in many of the world's cities as December 25th approaches.
Christmas decorations and seasonal preparations have been appearing in varying number and intensity in many of the world's cities as December 25th approaches. The city of Bethlehem, on the Israeli-occupied West Bank of the Jordan River, has long been the focal point of annual pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and it's there that the Christmas preparations are fully under way. On Monday (6 December), the city's holy places were being readied for the influx of visitors.
Since 1967, it was reported, factories have been established providing various seasonal offerings--including mother-of-pearl gifts and wooden carvings. Much of the city's recent industrialisation is related to tourist-based trade.
SYNOPSIS: The city of Bethlehem--on the Israeli-occupied West Bank of the Jordan River. The focal point of annual Christmas time pilgrimages to the Holy Land.
Manger Square--a centre of the city's Christmas season activities.
The Church of the Nativity--another feature of the Bethlehem Christmas season. Bethlehem, like many other cities in the world, is beginning its preparations for celebrating the Christmas season. Unlike others, however Bethlehem, is placed in a delicate political situation made more significant by the annual influx of Christian pilgrim, who descend upon the Holy Land and the city to offer their devotions at the birthplace of Christ. But despite this, life for the priests in the Church of the Nativity remains relatively unruffled. Even here, however, candlesticks and other holy utensils are given their pre-Christmas, once-over.
Manger Square is getting its seasonal decorations as well. On Monday, workmen were out in force preparing and stringing beads of coloured lights across the square. These decorations are part of the city's reaction to the number of tourists who pass through the city every year. A Christmas tree at a police station was a gift to Bethlehem's citizens by the Israeli Government in 1967.
Said to be new to Bethlehem is industrialisation on any kind of large scale. This factory making mother-of-pearl gifts had reportedly increased its production by 100 per cent since 1967. It's said to have upped its output by 40 per cent in the past year. The factory exports 90 per cent of its production to many European countries as well as Canada and the United States. Its products are also sold in the Middle East. Other factories produce textile products, marable goods, wine and cigarettes.
Another large enterprise in Bethlehem is this wood-carving factory, established in 1968. It reportedly has 80 workers and still cant' meet the demand for its products. Some 50 per cent of its output is exported to Europe, American and oven Africa. This year, efforts have been made to export to the Japanese market for the first time.
Much of Bethlehem's products are on sale in local gift shops. Among the tourists in Bethlehem on Monday was American actor Edward G. Robinson.
The level of enterprise in Bethlehem reaches its peak during the Christmas season when tourists and pilgrims fill the city. Here, South Africans tour Bethlehem. Israeli officials have said they intend to insure that the Festival of Peace this year is celebrated in peace.