From all of us at the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land to all of you, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a blessed, faith-filled New Year! 
Blessings from the Holy Land!

(Terrasanctablog) The lighting of the Christmas tree near the New Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem took place as night fell on Thursday the nineteenth of December, was lit. The celebration was organized by the union of organizations of the Christian Quarter in cooperation with the Palestinian Bible Society. The lighting was originally supposed to take place on the thirteenth, but was postponed due to the snowfall that paralyzed the city last week.

The organizers of the evening wanted to have a time of festivity open to everyone as a symbol of unity in the spirit of Christmas. They got their wish, as several hundred people gathered around the large tree to watch the fireworks that started the event. The spectators, some of whom wore Christmas-y hats, masks and costumes, then watched the parade of Scouts set out for the auditorium of Notre Dame Center, at the other end of the street but outside the walls of the Old City.

At the auditorium the Hope Musical Group presented a series of traditional Christmas songs in Arabic. At the concert’s end, the event organizers thanked the audience for their presence and offered their best wishes for the holidays and the coming year.

A number of religious leaders took part in the parade from the New Gate to Notre Dame Center and enjoyed the concert. Among those present were the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III; bishop emeritus Kamal Hannah Batish, the Anglican bishop Suhail Duwani, and the Syrian archbishop Murad Sewerios, as well as Archbishop Muneeb Younan. Their sponsorship of the event reminds us of the solid unity of Christian parishes in the Holy Land during the Christmas holidays.

MM Le Vaillant