Ten-Day Christmas Journey
Western Christians have inherited imagery and preconceptions formed within European cultures and later North American mass culture. Images come from art, Christmas cards, advertising, and such home-grown adaptations as the nativity scenes popularized by St. Francis. However, the cultural, social, and physical contexts in which the nativity narratives were conceived were quite different from these images. This tour offers an opportunity to encounter authentic on-the-ground places reminiscent of the events of the birth of Jesus as recounted in the New Testament and the Qur’an. We begin in the place where the faith ancestor Abraham first came to the region and finish in Bethlehem, city where the Prince of Peace was born.
Dec. 16: Arrive in Nablus—Biblical Samaria
- Check-in, welcome by Hijazi Travel representative and guide
- Spend the evening enjoying the traditional Turkish Bath
- Dinner and gathering: discuss the theme of Bible imagery in our lives and traditions, especially those pertaining to Christmas
- Overnight in Al-Yasmeen Hotel
Dec. 17: Explore Nablus and walk to ‘Awarta (1 hr)
- Visit a traditional soap factory
- Meet with the Samaritan community, the smallest ethnic and religious community on earth
- Explore the old city of Nablus
- Visit Jacob’s Well where Jesus met the Samaritan woman. The ancient well, believed to be associated with the biblical patriarch Jacob, is housed in a crypt below the lovely Greek Orthodox church of St. Photina
- Tel Balata where Abraham first arrived in Canaan
- In the late afternoon, walk to the village of ‘Awarta
- Explore the village and meet with locals
- Dinner and conversation
- Overnight with local families in ‘Awarta
Dec. 18: Walk from ‘Awarta to Duma (6 hr)
- Walk to Mount Urma, along the way enjoying traditional tea made over a fire
- Observe the archaeological site and the beautiful landscape
- Walk to Aqraba (3 hr) for a long lunch break with the local women’s committee
- In the afternoon, walk to Duma (3 hr)
- Dinner with local families
- Enjoy outdoor fire and henna
- Overnight in Duma
Dec. 19: Walk from Duma to Kefer Melek (5 hr)
- Walk to al Mughair village and lunch with a local family
- In the afternoon, walk to Ein Samia, a natural water source
- Drive to Kefer Melek to meet the local women’s association
- Dinner and overnight in Kefer Melek
Dec. 20: Walk from Kefer Melek to Taybeh (2 hr)
Arrival Taybeh, the ancient Christian village. The town is referred to in the New Testament as Ephram, to which, according to John’s gospel, Jesus and the disciples retreated after the authorities made the decision to kill Jesus. Christians here commemorate the presence of Jesus and his disciples, and a particular arch in the city is held to have been built on the site of their arrival.
- Visit the Byzantine Church and the only Palestinian brewery
- Meet Father Raed and learn about the Palestinian Christians
- Visit the House of Parables and learn what implications this little house brings regarding the events of the Nativity
- Overnight in the guest house run by the local Catholic Church
Dec. 21: Bedouin camp
Experience wonderful Bedouin hospitality in the rugged dwellings of their camp. Time spent with the Bedouin, whose traditional lifestyle has changed very little since the time of Abraham, brings us closer to the lives of the shepherds who watched their sheep on the night of Jesus’ birth, and were sent by angels to worship at the cradle of the newborn Savior.
Dec. 22: Jericho and Dead Sea
- Drive to St. George Monastery then walk to Jericho (1 hr)
- Near a palm oasis, share the Nativity narrative as set out in the Qur’an
Visit the Old City of Jericho and the Temptation Monastery, where we will visit the two grottos of importance: the Cave of Temptation and the Cave of Fasting. There is also a Greek Orthodox chapel with traditional icons and paintings commemorating the events.
- After lunch, float on the Dead Sea and enjoy its medicinal water and mud
- Drive back to Mary’s House in Bethlehem
- In the evening, sing traditional Christmas songs in the chapel
Dec. 23: Bethlehem
- Visit the Church of the Nativity (the traditional birth place of Jesus), the Milk Grotto, Shepherds’ Field
- Wall tour
- Explore Solomon’s Pools
- Walk to Artas
- Debriefing of experiences
- Overnight in Mary’s House in Bethlehem
Dec. 24: Bethlehem (Christmas Eve)
At 7:30 a.m., the city starts to come to life to the sounds of the Scouts’ fanfares. Following tradition, they lead the motorcade that precedes the car bearing the Patriarch for his entry, planned for one o’clock in the afternoon. All the Scouts will be there—not only the Catholic Scouts from Bethlehem and their Jerusalem colleagues, but also the Greek, Syriac, Copt, and Armenian Orthodox Scouts from the Bethlehem–Beit Sahur–Beit Jala region.
Walk through the old markets to reach the Basilica of the Nativity, watch the Scouts pass by in the very town where Jesus was born, where Mary and Joseph looked for a place to sleep for the night. Bethlehem is the town where the story of Christmas unfolds.
In the evening, join the crowd of locals and tourists in the large plaza in the center of Bethlehem. Enjoy Christmas songs and at midnight, the Christmas Mass from St. Catherine’s Basilica of the Nativity is broadcast on the big screen over Manger Square. There is a festive atmosphere and a profound sense of our nearness to the traditional site of the Nativity.
Dec. 25: Christmas Day
On this special day, in this special place, we will celebrate together the birth of Christ by exchanging small gifts, sharing a festive meal, and visiting local friends.
Tour ends. Free day and departure.
$1420 / person for 5 – 8 participants
* group discounts available
* if the number of participants is fewer than 5, the price will be pro-rated to equal the total price for five participants
* children up to 10 years old are half price
The price includes:
- Accommodations: BB, 3-4 star hotels, and home stays
- All dinners with local families (home stays)
- Transfer program
- English-speaking guide
- Light lunches during the walk
- Escort vehicle all the walking days
- Transfer of bags to next destination during the walk
- Meeting and assisting
- Transportation from Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, airport or the land crossing points is not included, but can be arranged