Tonight is Christmas – and the Israel Museum has a special display

The museum reveals a rare Eugolia token, believed to have been a souvenir for early Christians during their pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

The Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III attends a Christmas service according to the Eastern Orthodox calendar, in the church of Nativity in the West Bank city of Bethlehem. (photo credit: REUTERS)
The Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III attends a Christmas service according to the Eastern Orthodox calendar, in the church of Nativity in the West Bank city of Bethlehem.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Tonight, over a billion Christians around the world will be celebrating Christmas – and the Israel Museum is giving a "token" acknowledgement of the holiday as well.
The Israel Museum revealed a rare token, known as a Eugolia token, that is believed to be an example of ones collected as souvenirs by early Christians during their pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
Morag Wilhelm, assistant curator of Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine archeology at the Israel Museum, spoke about the rare token, which is roughly the size of an American dime and depicts the baby Jesus. The token was part of a large donation that was given to the museum.
What is rare about this particular token is that it only depicts the baby Jesus without Mary or Joseph. There is, however, a picture of the ox and ass, but they seem to be in an agriculture structure. There is speculation that this structure is in fact the Church of the Nativity.
Also known as the Basilica of the Nativity, the church is located in Bethlehem and is considered to be the oldest major church built in Israel, approximately 300 to 400 years after the birth of Jesus. It is believed to be the place where Mary and Joseph were turned away from the inn and spent the night in a stable on their way to Jerusalem. That is when and where Jesus is believed to have been born.
The ancient tokens were formed out of earth taken from holy sites around Israel and are estimated to be approximately 1,700 years old. Each token depicts some of the events of the life of Jesus; like the nativity scene and his crucifixion. Along with these tokens, which will be on display, there will also be additional items that were collected as souvenirs such as rings, vials for oil, pendants and crosses.
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