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    Posted December 25, 2013 by

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    Not Your Grandma's Xmas in Bethlehem


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     jerusalemite has lived in Israel since 1998. She visits Bethelem every Christmas. It's 10 minutes from her house in Jerusalem, 'but light years away in terms of culture and atmosphere.'
    - dsashin, CNN iReport producer

    Christmas Eve in Bethlehem, whose Christian population is now less than 20 percent, is a bizarre experience.

    You're likely to come across an ear-jarring parade of an Arab bagpipe brigade; merchants touting Made in China Santa costumes; and thousands of tourists from all over the world trying to squeeze themselves into the 3-foot high opening of the Church of the Nativity.

    Palestinian political posters and messages are plastered all over town, and the presence of heavily armed, black-shirt Palestinian police is, well, a little intimidating.

    Despite it all, anyone who wanders off the main drag in and around Manger Square, is in for some Christmas sights that are quite unique in the world.

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