All is calm, all is bright? Christmas 2013 celebrations across the Middle East

Published December 26th, 2013 - 14:17 GMT

Rate Article:

2.5
 
PRINT Send Mail
comment (0)

There might not have been much peace and goodwill in the Middle East this year, but Christmas 2013 was still celebrated with gusto in the Orient. With Christians being increasingly targeted by extremist groups, some festive cheer was much needed - and Santa delivered! Continue reading below »

View as list
Who better to celebrate Christmas with in Jordan than the royal family? Crown Prince Hussein made an appearance with this little brother Prince Hashem to kick off the festive celebrations in the Hashemite Kingdom. Sadly no white Christmas for Amman - despite snowstorm Alexa's best efforts!
Reduce

Image 1 of 12:  1 / 12Who better to celebrate Christmas with in Jordan than the royal family? Crown Prince Hussein made an appearance with this little brother Prince Hashem to kick off the festive celebrations in the Hashemite Kingdom. Sadly no white Christmas for Amman - despite snowstorm Alexa's best efforts!

Enlarge
The centre of the world, Jerusalem is a wonderful melting pot of religions and cultures. With Islam, Christianity and Judaism all converging here, it's a wonder not every day marks a religious festival! On Christmas, Christians take centre stage. Pilgrims flock to Jerusalem from all over the world to celebrate Jesus' birthday.
Reduce

Image 2 of 12:  2 / 12The centre of the world, Jerusalem is a wonderful melting pot of religions and cultures. With Islam, Christianity and Judaism all converging here, it's a wonder not every day marks a religious festival! On Christmas, Christians take centre stage. Pilgrims flock to Jerusalem from all over the world to celebrate Jesus' birthday.

Enlarge
Bethlehem is in the limelight on Christmas - and rightly so, as this is where Jesus was born, according to the Bible! The Palestinian city is decked out with glittering lights for the entirety of December and thousands from all over the world flock to Manger Square to see the spot where Mary and Joseph became parents.
Reduce

Image 3 of 12:  3 / 12Bethlehem is in the limelight on Christmas - and rightly so, as this is where Jesus was born, according to the Bible! The Palestinian city is decked out with glittering lights for the entirety of December and thousands from all over the world flock to Manger Square to see the spot where Mary and Joseph became parents.

Enlarge
In the New Testament of the Bible, Jesus is referred to as 'Jesus of Nazareth' - so it's no wonder that Christmas is a pretty big deal here. Hundreds of people come to Jesus' hometown, Israel's largest Arab city, and celebrate with festivals, church services and parties - all culminating in a massive Christmas eve procession.
Reduce

Image 4 of 12:  4 / 12In the New Testament of the Bible, Jesus is referred to as "Jesus of Nazareth" - so it's no wonder that Christmas is a pretty big deal here. Hundreds of people come to Jesus' hometown, Israel's largest Arab city, and celebrate with festivals, church services and parties - all culminating in a massive Christmas eve procession.

Enlarge
Ramallah was originally a Christian town - which explains the gigantic Christmas tree that gets put up in Arafat Square every festive season. The de facto Palestinian capital in the West Bank became a winter wonderland this year, when snowstorm Alexa covered the city with several feet of snow.
Reduce

Image 5 of 12:  5 / 12Ramallah was originally a Christian town - which explains the gigantic Christmas tree that gets put up in Arafat Square every festive season. The de facto Palestinian capital in the West Bank became a winter wonderland this year, when snowstorm Alexa covered the city with several feet of snow.

Enlarge
Lebanon has the largest population of Christians in the Middle East and so Christmas is a big deal! With many different Christian denominations in the Levant country, there is no uniform celebration of Christmas, but beautifully decorated trees, Santa and festive spirit is par for the course in December!
Reduce

Image 6 of 12:  6 / 12Lebanon has the largest population of Christians in the Middle East and so Christmas is a big deal! With many different Christian denominations in the Levant country, there is no uniform celebration of Christmas, but beautifully decorated trees, Santa and festive spirit is par for the course in December!

Enlarge
There might not be much to celebrate in Syria this year, but Christmas is still observed by the war-torn country's Christian minority. They may have been persecuted by both sides of the conflict, but Christians have kept their heads high - here, believers attend a Christmas concert in Damascus on December 23, 2013.
Reduce

Image 7 of 12:  7 / 12There might not be much to celebrate in Syria this year, but Christmas is still observed by the war-torn country's Christian minority. They may have been persecuted by both sides of the conflict, but Christians have kept their heads high - here, believers attend a Christmas concert in Damascus on December 23, 2013.

Enlarge
Iraq has been hit by a wave of terrible sectarian violence this year, but Christians in the troubled state are keeping up with festive traditions despite all of this. Here, Iraqi Christians light candles at the Virgin Mary Chaldean church (Church of Our Lady of Sacred Heart) in Baghdad on Christmas day.
Reduce

Image 8 of 12:  8 / 12Iraq has been hit by a wave of terrible sectarian violence this year, but Christians in the troubled state are keeping up with festive traditions despite all of this. Here, Iraqi Christians light candles at the Virgin Mary Chaldean church (Church of Our Lady of Sacred Heart) in Baghdad on Christmas day.

Enlarge
Despite there being only a handful of Christians in the UAE, it still dominates December. With big celeb events and world-class Christmas shopping, Emiratis take it all very seriously - they even spend upwards of $13,000 on creating a winter wonderland (complete with snowmen and faux snow) in their own homes! Madness!
Reduce

Image 9 of 12:  9 / 12Despite there being only a handful of Christians in the UAE, it still dominates December. With big celeb events and world-class Christmas shopping, Emiratis take it all very seriously - they even spend upwards of $13,000 on creating a winter wonderland (complete with snowmen and faux snow) in their own homes! Madness!

Enlarge
Although not in the Middle East,  Malaysia is a Muslim-majority country. Although much of Christmas celebrations in Malaysia are quite commercial - with big shopping mall dispalys - there's been trouble over the government trying to crack down on certain carols and depictions of Jesus. Bah Humbug! At least it's a public holiday!
Reduce

Image 10 of 12:  10 / 12Although not in the Middle East, Malaysia is a Muslim-majority country. Although much of Christmas celebrations in Malaysia are quite commercial - with big shopping mall dispalys - there's been trouble over the government trying to crack down on certain carols and depictions of Jesus. Bah Humbug! At least it's a public holiday!

Enlarge
With security beefed up so that Christians could celebrate Christmas in peace, Pakistan's festive offerings are peaceful and fun. This year, dozens donned their best Santa togs and paraded through the streets of Karachi and Lahore, while others offered thanks and prayers in their local churches.
Reduce

Image 11 of 12:  11 / 12With security beefed up so that Christians could celebrate Christmas in peace, Pakistan's festive offerings are peaceful and fun. This year, dozens donned their best Santa togs and paraded through the streets of Karachi and Lahore, while others offered thanks and prayers in their local churches.

Enlarge
With Hassan Rouhani tweeting Christmas wishes on the 25th, you'd be forgiven to think Iran had gone Xmas-crazy! 'May Jesus Christ, Prophet of love & peace, bless us all on this day. Wishing Merry #Christmas to those celebrating, esp Iranian Christians,' he said. Here, Father Christmas roams Tehran on Christmas eve.
Reduce

Image 12 of 12:  12 / 12With Hassan Rouhani tweeting Christmas wishes on the 25th, you'd be forgiven to think Iran had gone Xmas-crazy! "May Jesus Christ, Prophet of love & peace, bless us all on this day. Wishing Merry #Christmas to those celebrating, esp Iranian Christians," he said. Here, Father Christmas roams Tehran on Christmas eve.

Enlarge

1

Who better to celebrate Christmas with in Jordan than the royal family? Crown Prince Hussein made an appearance with this little brother Prince Hashem to kick off the festive celebrations in the Hashemite Kingdom. Sadly no white Christmas for Amman - despite snowstorm Alexa's best efforts!

Image 1 of 12Who better to celebrate Christmas with in Jordan than the royal family? Crown Prince Hussein made an appearance with this little brother Prince Hashem to kick off the festive celebrations in the Hashemite Kingdom. Sadly no white Christmas for Amman - despite snowstorm Alexa's best efforts!

2

The centre of the world, Jerusalem is a wonderful melting pot of religions and cultures. With Islam, Christianity and Judaism all converging here, it's a wonder not every day marks a religious festival! On Christmas, Christians take centre stage. Pilgrims flock to Jerusalem from all over the world to celebrate Jesus' birthday.

Image 2 of 12The centre of the world, Jerusalem is a wonderful melting pot of religions and cultures. With Islam, Christianity and Judaism all converging here, it's a wonder not every day marks a religious festival! On Christmas, Christians take centre stage. Pilgrims flock to Jerusalem from all over the world to celebrate Jesus' birthday.

3

Bethlehem is in the limelight on Christmas - and rightly so, as this is where Jesus was born, according to the Bible! The Palestinian city is decked out with glittering lights for the entirety of December and thousands from all over the world flock to Manger Square to see the spot where Mary and Joseph became parents.

Image 3 of 12Bethlehem is in the limelight on Christmas - and rightly so, as this is where Jesus was born, according to the Bible! The Palestinian city is decked out with glittering lights for the entirety of December and thousands from all over the world flock to Manger Square to see the spot where Mary and Joseph became parents.

4

In the New Testament of the Bible, Jesus is referred to as 'Jesus of Nazareth' - so it's no wonder that Christmas is a pretty big deal here. Hundreds of people come to Jesus' hometown, Israel's largest Arab city, and celebrate with festivals, church services and parties - all culminating in a massive Christmas eve procession.

Image 4 of 12In the New Testament of the Bible, Jesus is referred to as "Jesus of Nazareth" - so it's no wonder that Christmas is a pretty big deal here. Hundreds of people come to Jesus' hometown, Israel's largest Arab city, and celebrate with festivals, church services and parties - all culminating in a massive Christmas eve procession.

5

Ramallah was originally a Christian town - which explains the gigantic Christmas tree that gets put up in Arafat Square every festive season. The de facto Palestinian capital in the West Bank became a winter wonderland this year, when snowstorm Alexa covered the city with several feet of snow.

Image 5 of 12Ramallah was originally a Christian town - which explains the gigantic Christmas tree that gets put up in Arafat Square every festive season. The de facto Palestinian capital in the West Bank became a winter wonderland this year, when snowstorm Alexa covered the city with several feet of snow.

6

Lebanon has the largest population of Christians in the Middle East and so Christmas is a big deal! With many different Christian denominations in the Levant country, there is no uniform celebration of Christmas, but beautifully decorated trees, Santa and festive spirit is par for the course in December!

Image 6 of 12Lebanon has the largest population of Christians in the Middle East and so Christmas is a big deal! With many different Christian denominations in the Levant country, there is no uniform celebration of Christmas, but beautifully decorated trees, Santa and festive spirit is par for the course in December!

7

There might not be much to celebrate in Syria this year, but Christmas is still observed by the war-torn country's Christian minority. They may have been persecuted by both sides of the conflict, but Christians have kept their heads high - here, believers attend a Christmas concert in Damascus on December 23, 2013.

Image 7 of 12There might not be much to celebrate in Syria this year, but Christmas is still observed by the war-torn country's Christian minority. They may have been persecuted by both sides of the conflict, but Christians have kept their heads high - here, believers attend a Christmas concert in Damascus on December 23, 2013.

8

Iraq has been hit by a wave of terrible sectarian violence this year, but Christians in the troubled state are keeping up with festive traditions despite all of this. Here, Iraqi Christians light candles at the Virgin Mary Chaldean church (Church of Our Lady of Sacred Heart) in Baghdad on Christmas day.

Image 8 of 12Iraq has been hit by a wave of terrible sectarian violence this year, but Christians in the troubled state are keeping up with festive traditions despite all of this. Here, Iraqi Christians light candles at the Virgin Mary Chaldean church (Church of Our Lady of Sacred Heart) in Baghdad on Christmas day.

9

Despite there being only a handful of Christians in the UAE, it still dominates December. With big celeb events and world-class Christmas shopping, Emiratis take it all very seriously - they even spend upwards of $13,000 on creating a winter wonderland (complete with snowmen and faux snow) in their own homes! Madness!

Image 9 of 12Despite there being only a handful of Christians in the UAE, it still dominates December. With big celeb events and world-class Christmas shopping, Emiratis take it all very seriously - they even spend upwards of $13,000 on creating a winter wonderland (complete with snowmen and faux snow) in their own homes! Madness!

10

Although not in the Middle East,  Malaysia is a Muslim-majority country. Although much of Christmas celebrations in Malaysia are quite commercial - with big shopping mall dispalys - there's been trouble over the government trying to crack down on certain carols and depictions of Jesus. Bah Humbug! At least it's a public holiday!

Image 10 of 12Although not in the Middle East, Malaysia is a Muslim-majority country. Although much of Christmas celebrations in Malaysia are quite commercial - with big shopping mall dispalys - there's been trouble over the government trying to crack down on certain carols and depictions of Jesus. Bah Humbug! At least it's a public holiday!

11

With security beefed up so that Christians could celebrate Christmas in peace, Pakistan's festive offerings are peaceful and fun. This year, dozens donned their best Santa togs and paraded through the streets of Karachi and Lahore, while others offered thanks and prayers in their local churches.

Image 11 of 12With security beefed up so that Christians could celebrate Christmas in peace, Pakistan's festive offerings are peaceful and fun. This year, dozens donned their best Santa togs and paraded through the streets of Karachi and Lahore, while others offered thanks and prayers in their local churches.

12

With Hassan Rouhani tweeting Christmas wishes on the 25th, you'd be forgiven to think Iran had gone Xmas-crazy! 'May Jesus Christ, Prophet of love & peace, bless us all on this day. Wishing Merry #Christmas to those celebrating, esp Iranian Christians,' he said. Here, Father Christmas roams Tehran on Christmas eve.

Image 12 of 12With Hassan Rouhani tweeting Christmas wishes on the 25th, you'd be forgiven to think Iran had gone Xmas-crazy! "May Jesus Christ, Prophet of love & peace, bless us all on this day. Wishing Merry #Christmas to those celebrating, esp Iranian Christians," he said. Here, Father Christmas roams Tehran on Christmas eve.

Reduce

2013 has been a tough year for all the Middle Eastern states - if they are not rocked by all-out sectarian conflict (a la Syria), then there's a chance they've been impacted by dodgy governments, weak economies or settlement strife. Despite all this, Christmas 2013 went off with a bang across the region. Some bangs were bigger than others  - in Egypt, a massive explosion ripped through Mansoura in the Nile Delta killing 14 people, overshadowing any post-Morsi Christmas spirit. But in Iran, Hassan Rouhani took to this Twitter to reach out to Christians through a festive message - complete with hashtags. Christmassy cheer also made it to the UAE - where Xmas-crazy residents have shelled out big bucks to create a fake winter wonderland in their back yards. The region has gone Yuletide mad!

With the Middle East being considered the birthplace of Christianity - and Jesus - it's no wonder that the festive season is particularly special in this part of the world. Take a look at Al Bawaba's gallery of how Christmas 2013 was marked across the Middle East.

 

Advertisement

Add a new comment

 avatar