Arab Christians and pilgrims flood the Holy Land to attend the Christmas celebrations. According to the Israeli Ministry of Tourism, 70,000 foreign tourists are expected in Bethlehem. Wednesday afternoon the traditional procession from Jerusalem to Bethlehem leaves. The patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Fouad Twal, will lead this ten-kilometer procession.
In his Christmas message, Twal labeled Pope Francis’ journey to the Holy Land as one of the “most beautiful times” of the year. According to the patriarch of Jerusalem, that was in stark contrast to the Gaza conflict. “The ongoing war, with a Gaza massacre, was terrible and shocked us,” concluded Twal. The Archbishop will preside at Midnight Mass in Bethlehem in the Nativity, which would mark the birthplace of Jesus Christ. The Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will be present
The stories behind the most popular Christmas songs
Many Christmas tunes have a special history, which listeners do not always know well. We remind you the stories behind the best-known Christmas songs. Silent night is considered the most famous Christmas song in the world. The original German text was written by the Austrian village priest Joseph Mohr. The melody comes from schoolmaster Franz Gruber. The very first performance of Silent Night took place in 1819 in Oberndorf near Salzburg. The popular song has been translated into more than 300 languages and dialects and is recognized by UNESCO as an immaterial world heritage. In Dutch there are three different versions of the song. Initially, O fir tree had nothing to do with Christmas. The German preacher Joachim August Zarnack wrote in 1819 a tragic love song to an old Silesian folk tune. The tree in that song symbolizes loyalty to an unfaithful lover. Only five years later did the teacher Ernst Anschütz add a second and a third stanza. Thus the song became a well-known Christmas classic.
Composer Irving Berlin was very confident about White Christmas. He called the composition not only the best song he had written himself, but also the best song of all time. And with more than 50 million copies sold, the version of Bing Crosby indeed became the best-selling record in the history of the hit parade. When the song was used in the music film Holiday Inn, Berlin also won an Oscar in 1942. The number Do They Know It’s Christmas? was born in 1984, after the Irish pop singer Bob Geldof on TV saw a report on the famine in Ethiopia. He immediately drummed the fine fleur of the pop world and set up the occasional band Band-Aid. Together with singer Midge Ure, Geldof wrote a Christmas song in four days, which raised a total of 12 million euros for development projects.
Last Christmas is a Christmas number from 1984 by the British pop duo Wham! Actually, the song would originally be called Last Easter, but because the record company was looking for another hit for Christmas, singer George Michael reportedly replaced the word ‘Easter’ in the title with ‘Christmas’. Pop singer Chris Rea wrote the classic Driving Home for Christmas for his big break, when he and his wife from London drove to his hometown Middlesbrough in an Austin Mini. He got the idea for the Christmas number when they were in a traffic jam together. The department store chain Montgomery Ward brought in 1939 the coloring book Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer on the market. Although the management initially feared that customers would associate the red nose of the reindeer with alcohol abuse, the book immediately became a great success in the US. Composer Johnny Marks wrote a Christmas tune about the fictional reindeer, which became world famous in the version of country singer Gene Autry from 1949.
Why Pietje de Dood does not take a vacation
Several studies show that the probability that someone dies on Christmas, Boxing Day or New Year’s Day is greater than on any other day of the year, CNN writes. This is the case both for people who die of a natural death as those who are struck by a prolonged illness. On these days the number of deaths in all age categories increases, except for children. Sociology professor at the University of California – San Diego, David P. Phillips, and his team investigated the deaths between 1979 and 2004. Striking was the peak in the number of deaths on Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. A British study from 2013 confirms the phenomenon: patients admitted to hospital emergency services during the holidays die faster than those brought in on other days of the week, including the weekend. Scientists have still not found an explanation for rising mortality during the festive period. Does it have to do with stress or sadness? Are it the cold winter months? An increase in the number of suicides? They are popular theories, but they are therefore not yet correct. The access to care may also play a role. People who do not feel well may want to visit the doctor or hospital so that they can spend Christmas and new with the family. With all its consequences.
Sunny, soft and dry: no white Christmas this year
There is little doubt. We will have a green Christmas this year. Snow is not in the air for the first weeks in Flanders. ‘ That says weatherman Eddy De Mey. ‘Our weather is determined by a high-pressure area in the Azores and a mother depression above Iceland. In between, there is an airflow over the Atlantic Ocean. ‘ ‘There is little rainfall this weekend and also the days after it stays dry at temperatures that can climb to 9 degrees during the day. There will be virtually no night frost after tonight the first few days. ‘
Sunny and soft
‘Good weather for those who have to pay heating costs and for whom the road has to go. Snow lovers and skating enthusiasts have nothing to look for in the following weeks. ‘ After an exceptionally gloomy month of November we now have an exceptionally mild month of December. It is sunny, soft and relatively dry and will remain so until Christmas. During the first 13 days of the month, December gave us 48 hours of sunshine. The normal average is 45 hours of sunshine for a whole month. The temperatures are also extremely mild. The average temperature (day and night) is 4.7 degrees so far. The normal value is 3.9 degrees. There were 5 liters of precipitation (normally 19 liters in a month) and according to the expectation, the next period is not particularly significant. Christmas, we love it! During the Christmas season we can take the decorations out of the box, plant a tree in the house, play one Christmas CD after another without anyone complaining, endlessly enjoying Christmas shopping and eating our tummies around. Of course, in all the hustle and bustle, we do not forget what Christmas is really about. Yet there are some surprising facts about Christmas that you certainly did not know!
Christmas is dangerous
Both the Christmas lights in your 6.5 feet christmas tree , the extra candles that make your home cozy, and the traditional Christmas turkey can give Christmas a not so happy ending. Every year, a large number of people close their Christmas party in the emergency room because they have burned when they want to take the turkey out of the oven, and every year a Christmas tree sometimes causes a short circuit or fire . So do not leave the lights on when you are not at home.
Santa Claus was not always red
Throughout the years, Santa changed the color of his outfit several times. Whether he had something to say in that, let’s be in the middle. His stylist members chose blue and green, and since 1930 it has been red. Apparently red is a stayer. Would Coca-Cola have something in between?
Christmas socks and Santa Claus shoes
Santa Claus and Sinterklaas both find their origin in the story about the generous St. Nicholas. From that story our tradition grew to put our shoe on the fireplace for the saint and to hang a Christmas stocking for Santa Claus.
Rudolf was called ‘Reginald’
Copyrighter Robert L. May is the inventor of the most famous reindeer of all time. However, he first wanted to baptize our beloved Rudolf to Rollo or Reginald. Thank God they did not! His nose was also blue and not red at first. Let’s be honest: ‘Reginald the bluenosed reindeer’ was not really a Christmas hit! Christmas did not always fall on December 25th During Christmas, we celebrate the birth of Jesus, but his birth date is not explicitly mentioned in the Bible. Historians believe that it is even more likely that Jesus would have been born in the spring, but Christmas in the spring seems a bit less fun to us.
No Christmas tree without Prince Albert
Germans traditionally brought decorated branches into the house. Those branches should remind you of spring during the winter. Queen Victoria of England will certainly have looked weird when her German husband Prince Albert introduced decorated branches into the royal palace. Yet at the time the foundation was laid for our current Christmas tree!