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Festivals of Saints (Mar Saba, Mar Theodosius, Mar Jiriyes, Mar Nicola)

Religious Events

The Feast of St. Nicholas: According to tradition, the Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas in the old core of Beit Jala was built over the grotto where St. Nicholas lived during his pilgrimage to the Holy Land in the 4th century. St. Nicholas is considered the guardian of Beit Jala, and to commemorate his life, the 19th of December became his name day. During the feast, crowds of people gather in the streets of Beit Jala to welcome the parades and scouts and enjoy a series of events from musical concerts, folklore performances and special events for children. The Feast of St. Saba: The Feast of Mar Saba, or St. Saba of Capadocia, is celebrated from the afternoon of 17 December until 18 December in the morning, whereby the Greek Orthodox patriarch comes from Jerusalem to hold an evening mass, and a special mass is held for women at the adjacent church. During the feast, the walls of the monastery are adorned with candle lights, and monks welcome pilgrims with homemade bread and sweet wine. The Feast of St. Theodosius It is believed that St. Theodosius received a message from God to find the cave where the Wise Men spent the night after the birth of Jesus. The Saint found the cave and built a monastery over it. This is a special feast that is celebrated on 11 January, whereby priests and nuns of the monastery commence the day with a morning liturgy, followed by the opening of the cave of the Magi. The Feast of St. George This feast is celebrated by the Greek Orthodox on 5 and 6 May at St. George’s Church in the village of Al Khader. During this feast, the village witnesses huge celebrations that feature the practice of many rituals, including people attaching themselves with chains to relive the torture endured by St. George, the baking of special bread, dressing up in the traditional attire of St. George, and cutting hair, to name a few. Many religious people make a special vow for St. George to protect their children from all evil, by either dressing their sons with the saint’s attire for a whole year, or not cutting their hair for a whole year. During the feast, Children’s hair is cut and placed on one pan of the scales, and money for the church on the other, and many people, even the elderly, come barefoot from the towns of Bethlehem, Beit Jala and Beit Sahour. The feast also features dozens of street stalls and vendors who sell all kinds of things, including food and decorations.

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