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Christmas Eve Celebrations Begin in Bethlehem

  • Robert Berger

It's Christmas Eve in the Holy Land and festivities have already begun in the little town of Bethlehem.

Palestinian boy and girl scouts are marching through Manger Square here in Bethlehem, kicking off Christmas Eve celebrations. They are passing the ancient Church of the Nativity, the site where tradition says Jesus was born.

Religion is mixing with nationalism here: decorations include Christmas trees and lights and Palestinian flags.

Although Palestinians complain about Israel's separation wall at the entrance to Bethlehem, the mood is upbeat this Christmas. Bethlehem is enjoying a boom in tourism thanks to a lull in violence. About 50,000 visitors are expected for Christmas, giving a boost to the Palestinian economy.