Nazareth mayor says Christmas celebrations will be held as normal

Nazareth, the largest Arab town in Israel with a population of 76,000 Muslims and Christians and is one of the Holy Land's focal points of Christmas festivities.

People attend a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Nazareth (photo credit: AMMAR AWAD/REUTERS)
People attend a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Nazareth
(photo credit: AMMAR AWAD/REUTERS)
Nazareth Mayor Ali Salam on Saturday announced that Jesus’ hometown would celebrate Christmas as usual, despite an announcement days earlier that festivities would be curtailed in protest of the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
“Our message is we love Jerusalem, we’ll never abandon you under any circumstances,” Salam said at a press conference Thursday.
He termed US President Donald Trump’s decision “wretched,” adding that he had “stabbed” Palestinians.
Christmas celebrations in Nazareth
But Salam also said that “there are commercial interests of the city and we are used to hundreds of thousands coming for this season.”
After the press conference, it was erroneously reported that Salam had canceled the Christmas market. But the Nazareth Municipality issued a statement denying such reports.
“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.
“Christmas season in Nazareth is the season of good and blessing and we are completely vigilant that commercial interests won’t be damaged,” the statement continued.
To dispel any lingering doubts, Salam told Reuters on Saturday: “I don’t know why people thought there would be cuts to the celebrations.
Everything except for three singers who will not be coming will be held as normal. We have already welcomed 60,000 people to the city today.” Salam gave no reason for the singers’ absence.