Christians and non-Christians alike have celebrated Christmas in the Middle East for at least 2,000 years now. From magnificent churches to lively Christmas decorations, the Middle East strives to remind the rest of the world that this is, indeed, the birthplace of Jesus himself and that the region will continue to celebrate this holiday both religiously and secularly in the future to come. Here are the best places to spend a merry Christmas in the Middle East.
What better place to celebrate Christmas than at the biblical birthplace of Jesus himself? Located in the West Bank of Palestine, Bethlehem is home to a vibrant Christian community and the beautiful 6th-century Church of the Nativity, making Christmas here one of the most powerful events of the year.
Another biblical holy city, Jerusalem is a magical place to spend Christmas in the Middle East. Sparkling with numerous churches around the old and new parts of the city, the holiness and powerful beauty of human spirituality will stay with you even after Christmas in Jerusalem.
As it’s home to a vibrant and one of the largest Christian communities in the Middle East, Christmas in Beirut will not disappoint! From the giant Christmas tree in the main square to glittering lighted houses across town, Beirut’s Christmas is for those who need comforting holiday cheer.
Although the Coptic Christians of Egypt celebrate Christmas in early January, there will still be holiday festivities throughout December. Most Muslims and non-Christians in Cairo are open and enthusiastic about Christmas as well, which showcases the beauty of when different religions can come together to celebrate one of the most beautiful holidays of the year.
Another city in Egypt that is home to a large Christian community, Alexandria is especially known for its Greek Orthodox residents who have celebrated Christmas for hundreds of years in this city. Home to the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and all Africa, this church, with its white-washed exterior and dazzling Greek Orthodox imagery on the inside, will amaze anyone who wants a more traditional Christmas service.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Home to one of the most diverse and colorful expat communities in the Middle East, Dubai won’t disappoint for Christmas! From its Baptist Church to the Armenian Church, from the Christmas tree decorations in all the shopping malls and hotels to the enormous ice skating rink in Dubai Mall, there will be no shortage of holiday fun in Dubai for Christmas!
Amman is also home to a vibrant Christian community, and the Christmas season makes the city all the more wonderful to visit. From the classic Christmas bazaars across town and the Christmas tree lighting to the sound of church bells and the colorful Christmas lights, the only thing missing for Christmas in Amman is the snow!