Christmas Greetings from a TechGirl in Bethlehem by Razan Marzouka

It’s almost Christmas in Bethlehem and all over the world. Everyone is saying, “Merry Christmas” and “Happy New Year!” The city of Bethlehem, where Jesus was born, and where I live, is decorated all around. Close to the nativity church, there is a big Christmas tree, illuminated with tree in bethlehem

Christmas time is full of all kinds of festivities—people decorate their houses and buy new clothes. In schools, students collect money and then go to different charities to give people there the money they collected. I often go with the girls in my family to my grandparents’ house to make cakes like ma’mool. We enjoy spending this time together.

On the 24th of December, the Patriarch comes from Jerusalem, the capital of Palestine, to Bethlehem. All the scouts walk around Bethlehem with special shows and welcome the patriarch. At midnight, there’s a mass in the church with the patriarch until 5am. The mass is usually beautiful—I see almost all the Christians in that mass. When I was young I used to participate in it, but sadly, the last three years I didn’t participate. I hope that this year I will get to go.

On Christmas, I wake up at 7am and go quickly downstairs to light the Christmas tree. Then I eat breakfast with my mother, father, two brothers, and my sister and put on new clothes. Typically, we go to my grandparent’s house for Christmas, to celebrate with the whole family. At my grandparent’s house, we eat the cakes that we prepared before Christmas and my parents give me a gift. Then we have lunch and chat with each other. After that we normally watch a movie. Last year we watch “Christmas Carols,” a cartoon movie. My little brother and my cousins chose it, but it was amazing. After that I go to my other grandparents—my mom’s parents—in Ramallah to continue celebrating Christmas. When I arrive, I see the beautiful tree and a lot of gifts under it, we chat with each other and open the gifts. Everyone is smiling beautifully.

On Christmas day, the city is full of carols and the streets are full of foreign Christians who come here to celebrate the holiday in Bethlehem. There are also lots of people dressed up like Santa Clause who I see every year when I’m passing by the car with my parents,. My favorite song the carolers sing every year is “Silent Night”.

This year, I will celebrate Christmas in a new way. Since participating in TechGirls, I’ve become more confident and self-sufficient. I’ve strengthened my personality and my thoughts have also become wider. I have become more analytical and less shallow in my thinking. Every year I always think that Christmas is just wearing new clothes, receiving a lot of gifts, and doing parties but I think that this Christmas will be different. I’ve realized that Christmas is feeling happy and remembering that Jesus was born to heal us. We have to realize that that others need help and we have to make them happy. I realized that when I make someone happy, I become happier. So that is what I’m going to do this year.

christmas in bethlehem