Christmas Festivities are set to continue in Nazareth, despite media reports that the city’s Arab Muslim mayor had canceled all celebrations in protest at U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Famous for being the place where Yeshua grew up, Nazareth holds the biggest Christmas celebrations in Israel. Although the city is now predominantly Muslim, Nazareth retains a significant Christian Arab community in addition to a multitude of Christian visitors each year.
“Our identity and faith aren’t up for debate,” Nazareth Mayor Ali Salam announced at a press conference on Thursday last week. “The decision [by Trump about Jerusalem] has taken away the joy of the holiday, and we will thus cancel the festivities this year.”
The announcement resulted in headlines stating that “Christmas is canceled” in Jesus’ hometown. Among the media outlets carrying such headlines were the Times of Israel and Fox News.
However, as Reuters reported, it appears that the city council had never intended to cancel all the celebrations, only some of them.
“We have decided to cancel the traditional Christmas singing and dancing because we are in a time of dispute, because of what Trump has said about Jerusalem,” Nazareth city spokesman, Salem Sharara, clarified, according to Reuters.
At the same time, the annual Christmas market stalls and the traditional Christmas church services would be open as normal, Reuters reported.
Although Nazareth’s mayor is said to have described Trump’s declaration as a “wretched” decision which “stabbed” Palestinians, the Jerusalem Post stated that it had been “erroneously” reported that the Christmas market had been canceled in protest.
In regards to the reported cancelations, the Nazareth Municipality issued a statement.
“The cancellation only applies to artistic performances on stages,” the statement read. “Outdoor stalls will remain, the lighting of the Christmas tree will take place on Sunday as scheduled, programs in the Old City will proceed and a parade will be held on December 23.”
“The Christmas season in Nazareth is the season of good and blessing and we are completely vigilant that commercial interests won’t be damaged,” the municipality statement added.