I spent the day on a Christmas-themed photowalk in Jerusalem and couldn't think of a better way to wish you all a very Merry Christmas. As a Jewish country you don't see very much of Christmas here in Israel but what it lacks in size the tiny little Christian Quarter of the Old City sure made up for in spirit and pomp and circumstance.
So Merry Christmas from Jerusalem, where the rain thankfully held off until evening so I could get these shots to share with you:
Christmas Tree Outside a Jerusalem Church (St. Spyridon I think? I'm not sure, it was a side entrance and the church was closed.)
Santa's looking very fit this year, don't you think? He certainly seems to be enjoying himself too.
Appointed on June 21, 2008, His Beatitude Fouad Twal is the ninth Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem since the reinstatement of the Latin Patriarchate in 1847. Patriarch Twal, a Jordanian, is the second Arab Patriarch following his predecessor, H.B. Michel Sabbah (from the Patriarchate's official website). We had the incredible privilege of being invited into the Patriarchate to hear (and photograph! with permission!) Bishop Twal give his address to the assembled auxiliary bishops, priests and assorted dignitaries before the entire crew set off, with full regalia and a lot of pomp and ceremony, in their official motorcade for Christmas Eve in Bethlehem. Oh, and after the address they handed round brandy and chocolates to everyone, and we all ended up shaking all their hands and exchanging Christmas wishes in the receiving line as well. This guy is head of the Catholic Church for all of Israel, Palestine, Jordan and Cyprus. Definitely not something you experience every day.
Procession of priests (note the incense burner) at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Decorations for sale in what seems to be the Quarter's leading (and only dedicated) Christmas store.
And with that, I wish you all a joyous holiday full of all things good. Check back later in the week for many more images from my visit to Jerusalem's Christian Quarter.