At the entrance to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City, Christians from across the world celebrating Christmas placed their hands on the Stone of Unction and prayed.It is believed that Jesus was removed from the crucifix, laid on the stone slab and prepared for burial. There he was anointed with holy oil, washed, and then wrapped in a shroud. The Church itself is also one of the holiest sites for Christians, as this is where Jesus is believed to have been resurrected. Tourists and locals were coming in and out of the ancient Church throughout Christmas day, while inside, many were lighting candles as well as kissing, touching, bowing their heads and praying over the stone. Several waited in lines to see Jesus’s tomb. In the alleys around the church were festive lights, Christmas decorations and in some of the windows, Christmas trees covered in colorful ornaments.Several tourists visiting Jerusalem for Christmas spoke to The Jerusalem Post about the spiritual experience of being in Bethlehem on Tuesday night and Jerusalem on Wednesday. Sister Immkulata Mongwa, who was on a Christmas pilgrimage from Tanzania said celebrating in Bethlehem and Jerusalem has been “very different to what it’s like at home... In Jerusalem, there is a minority of Christians, and most people are from other religions so there’s not as much of an emphasis on it here,” she said. “But here in the Christian Quarter, it’s been beautiful. So spiritual, joyous and meaningful. It’s been special to see where Jesus went through all his trials and to be able to relate to it.” Asked about her favorite part of her trip, she said that “visiting Bethlehem last night was something I will never forget... Today we celebrate the birth of Jesus but we also remember his suffering,” she added.For Cati Quiz and Leonardo Azubel who were visiting from Spain, the visit to Bethlehem on Christmas eve was not what they expected. “It was an experience,” Quiz said. “I was a little disappointed though, because it wasn’t really spiritual, it was very noisy and too busy – chaotic is the word to describe it.” She also said she felt there wasn’t much respect from people at the site, adding that “there was no solemnity.” He still enjoyed his time there, though, adding that it was “a different experience, but it was good to visit the place where Yeshu [Jesus] was born.”Samuel Asiimwe and Rita Kwibuka, visiting from Rwanda, said they felt “reborn” after going to Bethlehem, and after spending time in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. “It’s like history has come alive,” Asiimwe said. “We’re seeing what we’ve learned and read in the Bible with our own eyes... We can tell everyone back home about it and tell them it’s real, and we get to write our own experience in the Holy Land.”Meanwhile, for local Christian Arabs, while Christmas is still a special time for them, it’s not as spiritual. For Khalil and Rami, who grew up in the Christian Quarter, Christmas in the Old City is “celebrated the same way it’s done all over the world.” When asked if they felt that it was a little more spiritual to be in the Holy Land for the holiday, Rami said that he didn’t think so, “but it could be because I’ve grown up celebrating Christmas this way all my life, so to me it’s just normal.” Both said they had visited Bethlehem on Tuesday night, adding that “it’s a family tradition to do so.”Khalil said it was nice to see the reaction of tourists, and people who haven’t been to Bethlehem before or visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. “It’s exciting for the children too, and it’s great family time for us, but it’s not particularly different to how other people celebrate this holy day,” he explained, adding that they go to mass in the evening and morning and have a family meal on Christmas day. “Maybe for people living outside of Israel it’s different, but for us this is the way we’ve always done it,” Khalil concluded.