Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Here’s some good news from the Independent to contradict the gloom and doom from the Guardian:
Tens of thousands of tourists and Christian pilgrims packed the West Bank town of Bethlehem for Christmas Eve celebrations Saturday, bringing warm holiday cheer to the traditional birthplace of Jesus on a raw, breezy and rainy night.
Bethlehem, like the rest of the West Bank, fell onto hard times after the Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation broke out in late 2000. As the fighting has subsided in recent years, the tourists have returned in large numbers and all of the city’s hotels were fully booked.
By early evening, the Israeli military, which controls movement in and out of town, said some 55,000 visitors, including foreigners and Arab Christians from Israel, had reached Bethlehem. Palestinian officials in Bethlehem said that with local tourists included, overall turnout was 120,000 — about 30 percent higher than last year. The number was expected to rise throughout the evening.
By nightfall, a packed Manger square, along with a 50-foot-tall (15-meter-tall) Christmas tree, was awash in Christmas lights, and the town took on a festival-like atmosphere.
This item from the Independent was followed by yet another this morning: Hundreds pack Bethlehem church for Mass:
Hundreds of Christian faithful have filled the ancient church that marks Jesus’ traditional birthplace for Christmas Mass, undeterred by pouring rain and harsh winds.
Worshippers rushed into the Church of the Nativity under the cover of umbrellas, leaving Manger Square, with its 50-foot-tall (15-meter-tall) Christmas tree, deserted.
Inside the bustling church, supplicants — many of them foreign — raised their voices in prayer, kissed a plaster statue of Baby Jesus and took communion.
On Christmas Eve, the turnout in Bethlehem was at its highest since a violent uprising against Israel drove away tourism more than a decade ago.
At least the Independent was honest in its description of the cause of the decline in tourism.
And to finish off my good wishes, I present you with a video, a bit of an oldie, but still cute in my humble opinion. Merry Christmas!