Crowds gather in Bethlehem for Christmas

1:05 AM, Dec 25, 2013   |    comments
  • Share
  • Print
  • - A A A +



BETHLEHEM, West Bank (AP) - The turnout of Christian pilgrims in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on this Christmas Eve has been the highest in years.

Thousands from around the world gathered for Christmas Eve celebrations, bringing warm holiday cheer to the biblical birthplace of Jesus on a cool, clear night.

The turnout helped lift spirits in Bethlehem -- as leaders expressed hope that the coming year will bring the Palestinians an independent state of their own.

Tourists milled around Manger Square, stopping in restaurants and souvenir shops and admiring a large, illuminated Christmas Tree. Marching bands and scout troops performed for visitors in the streets, and on a stage next to the tree.

Will Green of New York City says being in Bethlehem for Christmas is a dream come true. He's there with his wife and their two-year-old daughter, and says, "All the stories that we grew up with. It's here. It's part of our life."

His family followed a crowd toward the Church of the Nativity, built on the site where Christians believe Jesus was born.

Check out some of our most read stories from 2013:

#shortyellows: Florida quietly shortened yellow lights

Terrorism Warning: Memo says terrorists practicing dry-runs on Florida flights

Kittens shot: Officer shoots kittens in front of children

Courtroom apology: Woman apologizes for flipping off judge

Weird ice: Strange, giant circles appear on frozen pond

Controversial Club: College student organizes "White Student Union"

CFO Trouble: School administrative chief in trouble over her porn sex blog

Warning Shot Wife: Mother gets 20 years for firing warning shots at abusive husband

Science Arrest: Teen girl arrested over science project explosion

Wait, WHAT?? Dog shoots man in the leg with a handgun

Popular photo galleries:

Faces of Meth: Devastating before and after photos of meth abusers

Trayvon Martin Shooting: Trayvon Martin crime scene photos and George Zimmerman injury photos 

Hooters Winners: Winners of the 2013 Hooters swimsuit pageant

Rejected: Funny Florida license plates rejected by the DMV***warning graphic***

Deadly sinkhole: Home collapses, man dies in giant sinkhole

Popular Databases:

Florida Sex Offenders: Look up sex offenders in any Florida neighborhood here

Restaurant Inspections: Look up inspection reports for any Florida restaurant here

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Most Watched Videos