The Festival of Festivals-Celebrating Christmas, Hanukah and the Unity between Christianity, Judaism and Islam in Haifa, Israel
December 1-31, Wadi Nisnas, The German Colony and the foot of Bahai Gardens, Haifa
Every Thursday-Saturday in December
If visiting Israel during the month of December, be sure to check out the ‘Festival of Festivals,’ in Israel’s third largest city, Haifa. It’s the perfect way to celebrate both the Christian holiday of Christmas and the Jewish festival of Hanukah, as well as pay tribute to Haifa’s cohabitation between the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths, in one of the most significant festivals of its kind in Israel.
Haifa is additionally an excellent place for Christian tourists to visit and acquaint themselves with, as it is home to Stella Maris Church and Monastery, and church of the Carmelite order. A site for Christian pilgrims, this monastery is a small treasure trove of antiques, and a church dedicated to the life of Elijah. It is also home to the cave where Christians believe the Prophet Elijah to be buried. The Muhraka Carmelite monastery is another worthwhile Christian point of interest, built on the site where the prophet Elijah fought and won against the Bal. Haifa is also home to Saint Mary’s Greek Orthodox Parish Church, and the Sacre Coeur Catholic School, with lovely statues of the Virgin Mary, and a beautiful garden.
The festival of festivals features street parties featuring live holiday music, ethnic dancing, street performers, shows, street parties, art, parades, children’s activities, an antiques fair, exhibitions and plenty of stalls to purchase gifts, food and sweets. The music portion of the festival takes place in churches, and is co-hosted by the Haifa Chamber Music Society of Haifa. The concerts feature religious music from the three religions as well as ethnic Israeli and Arabic music. The festival is a special treat for visitors looking to experience local religion, culture and a feeling of unification. The festival also has Christmas trees, Christmas themed music shows, as well as Santa’s which make their appearances during the festival.
The festival is of wonderful symbolic meaning, and as sign of faith and peaceful cohabitation. The festival is held at three locations in Haifa: at the foot of the Bahai gardens, the German Colony and in Wadi Nisnas. Every year, thousands of Haifa residents, Israelis and tourists come and show their support for this wonderful collaboration of religion, culture and tolerance. It is extremely popular, for its food, fun and peace aura of cohabitation and well-being.
In concurrence with the festival, the Haifa city museum is also hosting a variety of special workshops and exhibits.
On December 8-9, between the hours of 11:30-13:00, the museum will be featuring an exhibition followed by a workshop for children entitled, ‘On the way to the sea: Architecture from the mountains to the sea.’ The exhibition (which is especially designed for children,) will take one 3D public building, and allow children and participants to help design its surrounding environment. Pretty cool!
On December 15-16, between the hours of 11:30-13:00, the Haifa City Museum will feature an exhibit and workshop entitled ‘Login/Logout.’
Come and celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah and Islam in Israel’s third largest city, and one of its most divers-Haifa. Come for Christmas cheer, carols, Santa’s and stay for the Hanukkah and ethnic Arab shows, music and dancing. It’s a cross-cultural, cross-religious festival that you don’t want to miss.
Pictures from the 2011 festival:
Youtube videos from the 2011 festival: