Today is the day of Christmas celebrations - all in preparation of the moment of Jesus' birth. It started early with all the scout troops marching into Manger Square. Playing drums and bagpipes - they tried very hard to out play everyone else. While there are hundreds of people in the square it still does not seem all that crowded to me but I have not been here before so I am not sure what to expect. This year is special because Palestine is now a state - although one with non-member observer status to the UN. The Church was also recognized this year as a UN world heritage site and rightfully so. This designation also protects the pilgrimage route in Bethlehem which will allow the Christmas procession by the Latin Patriarch. I will not see the procession until it arrives at the square. There are hundreds of Muslims and Christians lining the route though and traveling to the Square by taxi was a bit taxing itself!
There will be a midnight mass tonight but you have to win a ticket to go into the church for it. Otherwise you can stand outside and listen to the sermon over the PA system. I am sure I will not be up that late for it. Security seems to be very tight given that members of the Palestinian Authority are likely to be here for the event.
It is quite thrilling to see all of the people and santas and decorations preparing for the moment of the holy birth!