Laura Shaw with son Caleb, Jabcob and niece Emily Davison give out apples during a previous ‘Bethlehem Star’ production at the Emmanuel Church on Sunday. (Black Press file photo)

Laura Shaw with son Caleb, Jabcob and niece Emily Davison give out apples during a previous ‘Bethlehem Star’ production at the Emmanuel Church on Sunday. (Black Press file photo)

COLUMN: Bethlehem Christmas, many years later

Rev. Guna Vaddadi of St. Stephen Anglican Church in Summerland examines Christmas in Bethlehem

The historical and Biblical evidence is too incomplete to allow a definitive dating of the birth of Jesus.

By analyzing references to known historical events mentioned in the nativity accounts in the Gospels of Luke and Mathew, historians and most theological scholars assume a year of birth between 6 and 4 BC. Scientific evidence from the University of Cambridge, have argued and assigned a year for the first Christmas.

Stating that a comet spotted in the early 5 BC was likely the ‘Star of Bethlehem’ referred to in the Gospels, putting Jesus birth in or near April, 5 BC, as recorded in the Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Having said that, speaking of Israel as a nation, allow me to put it on record that there is irrefutable and conclusive proof that the birth place of Jesus Christ was in Israel.

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However unfortunately unlike ancient times, current Israel contains only a few numbers of native Christians, according to the estimates, only 2.5 per cent of the entire Israeli population are Christians.

Well that being said, let’s travel to the City of David, Bethlehem of Judea, to present day Israel and see the festivity of Christmas 2,018 years later.

Even though the country shares some ancient Christmas facts and locations, Christmas day isn’t widely celebrated as compared to other countries across the world. And it is not a public holiday in many parts of Israel. But then you can still encounter unique Christmas experience in some of the holiest places such as the Manger Square, the ancient Church of Nativity and the Holy Sepulcher as well as other churches.

Nonetheless, some of the cities that never sleep in Israel when celebrating Christmas day include Haifa, Tel Aviv, Nazareth, Galilee, Bethlehem, and Jerusalem.

During this day, special services are usually held by Christians throughout the country. Celebrations include, Christmas lights in their homes, churches and outdoor markets.

For the Christians in Israel, this includes Christmas concerts such as feasts, baptisms, Christmas services, carols, Christmas Eve parades, parties, and concerts needless to say are common during this time of the year. And usually a big fireworks display ensues.

Nativity scenes, dramatic re-enactment is very popular among the Christian faithful in Israel. In the town of Nazareth itself, the home town of Jesus Chris,t the celebrations are always taken on a bit higher scale.

We the Parish of St. Stephen Anglican Church, Summerland, greet everyone “Chag Molad” as the Jewish people would say, which means Merry Christmas to self, the entire community of Summerland and the world at large.

“Christmas isn’t just a day. It’s a frame of mind.” — Valentine Davies

Rev. Guna Vaddadi is the incumbent priest at St. Stephen Anglican Church in Summerland.

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