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Christmas 2005

"The fence prevented tourists from walking into town on the biblical-era route likely used by Jesus and Mary. Instead, they were forced to enter through an Israeli checkpoint. Shops, restaurants and businesses that once thrived remained shuttered, split off from the rest of the town by the barrier."

- 30,000 pilgrims flock back to Bethlehem for Christmas, Ha'aretz, 25.12.05

Coverage of some of this year's celebrations of the birth of Christ:

BBC Radio's coverage of the Advent was, as usual, excellent, and I followed most of the religious broadcasts on BBC Radio 3 and 4 from the first Sunday in Advent, which was November 27. The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King's College, Cambridge was broadcast worldwide on Christmas Eve as usual and is still available online for a week. It's worth checking in on the King's College website's section on the Nine Lessons, which includes the full Order of Service for the occasion.

Bethlehem celebrated the Nativity as usual, and Yahoo! News has a picture gallery of the occasion. The excellent Electronic Intifada is yet to post any local accounts of Christmas Day, but this interview with a resident of Bethlehem indicates the hardship that local Palestinians have to endure.

Bethlehem Bloggers
shows some photos of the terrible wall that has been erected through their town.

Ha'aretz has a report on Christmas in Bethlehem. On the flipside of Israeli media coverage, however, is this report from Arutz Sheva, the Israel Broadcasting Network.

The Vatican's coverage of the Advent can be found here. Vatican Radio has transcripts in English of Pope Benedict's Midnight Mass and his Christmas message, which he delivered for the first time as Pope.

Last Friday's Christian Science Monitor previews an unusual partnership between Christianity and Islam planned in Jakarta for this Christmas period.