Most of the Christians we know (Jeff’s labmates) are Greek Orthodox and celebrated Christmas two days ago on January 7th, which is December 25th according to the Julian calendar.
Last year we arrived in Israel at the end of December, and so I actually missed Christmas because it was part of the package of changing countries. (I didn’t miss cheesy holiday songs on the radio.)
It’s like when I visited America in November this year and enjoyed inhaling the piped-in aroma of pumpkin pie in all the stores. Same idea, familiarity and nostalgia and all that.
Lucky for us, this year we knew where to find Christmas in Haifa: the German Colony on Ben-Gurion Street. A brief bit of background: It’s called the German Colony because it was originally settled by evangelical Germans in the 1800’s. They evacuated during World War I. Now the area is considered to be part of the Christian Arab quarter just up the hill (as far as I understand). They light up the whole street with Christmas trees including a big giant one in the main traffic circle.
Jeff, Rafi, and I went out to eat and enjoyed the beautiful lights on January 7th, Greek Orthodox Christmas. We ate outdoors. Now we’ll always be able to say, “Remember that time when we ate dinner outside on Christmas in January?”
Rafi loves the sparkly lights. Besides that, all he knows about Christmas is that Santa Claus isn’t real; he is really Louis, the yard teacher from Wayside School, wearing a funny suit.
As I may have mentioned before, Haifa is known for being multicultural. Every December, the city hosts a series of cultural events (arts, theater, etc.) known as “The Holiday of Holidays.” It’s intended to provide a festive cultural atmosphere that everyone can enjoy no matter which winter holiday they’re celebrating. I didn’t get a chance to catch anything, mostly because Chanukah was already over by the time it started. I sort of forgot that there was such a thing as a “holiday season” until about December 24th.