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One of my favorite traditions that I have started in my family is our Christmas Eve Bethlehem Dinner. It’s a special part of Christmas for our whole family. Let me tell you about it!
If you are looking for a unique Christmas meal for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, give this a try! Your family and your guests will all enjoy it!
About Our Christmas Eve Bethlehem Dinner
On Christmas Eve, I like to make a special dinner that is focused on the theme of the first Christmas. I make traditional foods that might have been eaten in the time and place when Christ was born.
I make this meal very different from our normal meals. We eat it by candlelight on the floor around our low coffee table in the living room. You may want some cushions to make it more comfortable. The food is not our typical meal, either. But it is delicious, and incredibly beautiful.
Having a Bethlehem dinner is a unique way to help kids learn the true meaning of Christmas. We are not a Santa family. We instead focus on Jesus and his birth during the Christmas season. This is the perfect way to do that for our Christmas meal.
Bethlehem Christmas Eve Dinner Menu:
The meal I make has a Middle Eastern theme. Some of it would have been the foods they would have eaten during the time of Jesus’s birth. Others, I know are modern foods, but are still delicious and fun to make for the dinner.
Here’s what is usually on the menu:
- Fresh Homemade Pita Bread (it’s so much better than any store bought kind!)
- Homemade Hummus
- Roasted Fish
- Pistachios, almonds (or other nuts)
- Sliced Cucumbers
- Sliced Tomatoes
- Falafel (made from ground up chickpeas)
- Baklava (made with honey for dessert)
- Cider or grape juice to drink
- Olive oil with herbs and spices for dipping the unleavened bread
Place items in bowls and serve it family style. Everyone can pass the foods around and serve it right there at the table.
Some other menu ideas include: sliced vegetables to dip in the hummus, goat cheese, boiled eggs, grape leaves, lamb, figs and rice.
During the meal, I like to play some soft instrumental Christmas music to give it a peaceful feeling. Lighting candles also helps the Bethlehem meal feel more special! If you have oil lamps, that would be even better! We also like to read the Christmas story in Luke from the Bible this night sometime before sending the kids off to bed.
I don’t use any special decorations for this Bethlehem dinner. I like to keep it very simple to give the feeling of the old world. We do have some fun pewter plates that I like to pull out for this meal, though.
Why Have a Bethlehem Christmas Eve Dinner?
The Christmas season is a special and sacred time in our home. I like to focus it around the true meaning of the season as much as possible. As I thought about what I wanted out Christmas to look like, this came to mind as a way to make Christmas Eve more meaningful.
I was lucky enough to spend a semester abroad in college living in Jerusalem. It was a very important part of my life! I love to make the foods and bring out items I got while living there to share with my family. I am able to bring in some of this culture to our Bethlehem dinner. This bowl is a favorite! You may also have noticed the olive wood nativity pictured above.
Recipes for the Bethlehem Dinner:
Long before I started this teaching blog, I had a recipe one. I started it to share family recipes, but it has long been left untouched. However, most of my family favorites are still over there! These recipes below link to that website.
Lentils- I don’t really have a recipe, but I cook green or brown lentils with broth, lemon juice, cumin, parsley (or other herbs), garlic and salt. They are delicious!
Falafel- I usually just use the Knorr package mixes. They are nowhere near as good as a fresh homemade one, but are quick & easy!
I took these pictures a few years back at my Mom’s home. I have been meaning to write this post for some time and am glad to have finally gotten around to it! This particular year we had my Mom with us as well as one of my nephews. It was a great evening full of many memories! I am excited to have our Bethlehem Christmas Eve dinner again this week!