Christians in Israel and the Palestinian Authority began to celebrate the Christmas holiday on Wednesday, along with some 70,000 Christian visits who have come to Israel for the festivities.
The focus of the Christmas celebrations, as in every year, are in Nazareth and Bethlehem, the home town and birth place respectively of Jesus.
Wednesday was Christmas Eve which saw the traditional Christmas parade staged in Nazareth, in which thousands of local youth, together with the leaders of the Christian communities, walked through the streets of Nazareth.
The march concluded at the plaza in front of the Basilica of the Annunciation with a firework display, sponsored by the Ministry of Tourism, to mark the opening of the festive Christmas celebrations, and a Christmas Mass was celebrated in the Basilica in the evening.
Christmas celebrations and activities have been well underway in the city for the past week, with a giant Christmas tree dominating the plaza next to the Basillica which was lit last week to start the Christmas season, and the Christmas Market that has become an annual event for finding all the accoutrements that go with the holiday.
Tens of thousands of Christians also to travelled to Bethlehem, along with Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal, who was welcomed to the city by the Latin parish priest of Bethlehem and representatives of Bethlehem, Beit Jala and Beit Sahour.