Beit Sahour, known as the City of the Shepherds Field, is a Palestinian city in Bethlehem Governorate located at 1.5km east of Bethlehem City. The origin of the name Beit Sahour (the house of vigilance) reputedly stems from the Canaanite words "Beit" meaning place, and "Sahour" meaning night watch, which reflected the importance of the area for shepherds. The land provided the flocks with good grazing during the day and safety in its numerous caves at night.
When talking about the cultural events that take place annually in the city of the shepherds, the above introduction must be given, as the above introduction is an important reflection of the city’s ancient heritage and cultural events that the local organizations and the citizens celebrate yearly. The Cultural Heritage Preservation Center is the place that hosts most of these cultural activities in its huge multipurpose hall. The cultural events in Beit Sahour fall in many sectors, as the city celebrates national events and occasions, religious events and occasions, festivals, anniversaries and traditional events as well. Below you will find these events listened in sectors with a small introduction about each event and occasion, as follows:
Local Organizations Sector:
Beit Sahour has many local organizations that work for the benefit of the city and its 14000 people, as well as working for raising the city’s cultural reputation among the other Palestinian cities, these local organizations that Beit Sahour is proud to have are mostly the result of personal efforts of locals who wanted to make a change and bring the city’s youth and cultural life to a higher level.
Beit Sahour has 48 local organizations that vary in their messages, aims and services, noting that these organizations celebrate their anniversaries yearly in the Cultural Heritage Preservation Center that has a multipurpose hall for these annual celebrations.
Celebrating the anniversary of every organization in the Cultural Heritage Preservation Center is of a high importance not only to the organization itself but to the city as well for celebrating the organizational anniversaries signifies and symbolizes for the great contribution that every organization gives to the local community as the anniversary celebration itself symbolizes for the continuity of success and contribution that these organizations represent.
National and Religious Events Sector:
In this sector Beit Sahour celebrates most of the down listed national and religious yet cultural events along with its 14000 people in the multipurpose hall of the Cultural Heritage Preservation Center as such religious and national occasions have many cultural activities made to celebrate these occasions as follows:
This national occasion is of a high importance for Palestinians and is celebrated on the 15th of November of each year. Many cultural activities take place in Beit Sahour regarding this special occasion such as scouts performances, folkloric dance and music performances as well as other activities such as peaceful march during which people raise flags and sing national songs.
New Year’s Eve:
The New Year’s Eve is celebrated on the 31st of December of each year. During which tradition resultants in Beit Sahour open its doors for families all across the country with celebrations through folkloric dance and music performances.
Christmas for Western Denominations:
Christmas for western denominations is celebrated on the 25th of December of each year during which the most important activities take place such as the Great Joy festival as well as Lighting the Christmas Tree of Beit Sahour. Such occasion is of a high significance for Christians during which many festivals take place in variable parts of the city especially in the multipurpose hall of the Cultural Heritage Preservation Center from which the candle march and the peace march start.
In this occasion the Municipality of Beit Sahour sets the stage for many music and dance groups to perform and share the joy of Christmas with people of Beit Sahour and delegations who visit from abroad.
As mentioned above, the Christmas festival includes many importance activities that take place on the 25th of December such as the Great Joy, Christmas Tree lighting and Christmas programs for children and people with special needs as well as activities that take place in the Elderly Club of Beit Sahour.
Christmas for Eastern Denominations:
Christmas for Eastern Denominations is celebrated on the 7th of January of each year. During this time of a year Beit Sahour holds variable festivals that also include dance and music performances in spite of organizational activities that include a special participation from the local community organizations.
International Woman’s Day:
This important occasion is celebrated yearly on the8th of March as such symbolic occasion holds many activities beneath it such as workshops and activities held by the local community’s women associations and centers in spite of other different kind of artistic activities done by our local folkloric dance groups.
Such occasion is also celebrated in the schools and local establishments along with the other community sectors as emphasizing on the active role of women in our community is of a high value. It is important to note that the Cultural Heritage Preservation Center in Beit Sahour hosts many of these activities that take place in the International Woman’s Day especially activities that address the women’s local industry such as the embroidery exhibitions that are part of this occasion.
Palm Sunday iscelebrated differently as it starts on the Seventh Sunday of Lent and the last before the Easter holiday, the start of Holy Week. In such Christmas occasion activities take place especially for the kids as Sunday schools hold many festivals for the kids during which they all carry the decorated palm branch.
In such occasion the city hosts events that include mostly activities for the kids aside from music and dance performances.
A great march of peace takes place in such holy Christian occasion that comes on Sunday and is moving daily between April 4 and May 8, according to the Greek calendar and the following Holy Saturday. People march to the churches to bring the light that comes from Jerusalem. In such occasions Beit Sahour locals like to hold many folkloric activities which include a variety of events.
Easter is an important Christian occasion that is celebrated in April of every year as such occasion brings special joy to the local families. Easter is the time in which families celebrate by making the traditional cookies that they exchange during the mutual visit and Easter greetings.
Easter in Beit Sahour takes a total different side sometimes through artistic activities that are held in variable places in the city especially in the Cultural Heritage Preservation Center.
One of the important and significant occasions that is celebrated on the 30th of March of each year. Earth day is considered a national symbolic occasion that holds the importance of the land to us as Palestinians.
Beit Sahour celebrates this special national occasion through many activities that include tree planting, voluntary work, a march of peace, folkloric dance performances, music performances and workshops for schools and organizations.
It is an important occasion that is celebrated on the 14th of December of every year. In such occasion schools mostly celebrate it by honoring its teachers and staff especially those who have been in service for a long time.
Beit Sahour celebrates that day not only by honoring the teachers but also by holding many seminars and workshops that address the importance of the Palestinian teacher as a symbol of the unlimited giving. Teacher’s day can also be celebrated by various artistic events that include dancing and music performances as well as book exhibitions.
International and Palestinian Child’s Day:
Probably the most sensitive occasion for us as Palestinians this is celebrated on the 1st of April of each year.
In Beit Sahour, schools, kindergartens and local organizations pay a great attention to such occasion during which many children events take place as such events include music, play performances, theatric events and many parties in which gifts are distributed for children.
Fakkous Festival (Snake Cucumber Festival):
Al Fakkouse Festival is a traditional festival for Beit Sahour and is celebrated on the 17th of June of each year. Beit Sahour is a famous city with planting that type of vegetables as the city holds a special festival for this.
During such festival, the city’s elderly participate through singing traditional songs along with the folkloric dance groups and music performances.
Mother’s Day iscelebrated on the 21st of March of each year. Many activities take place in such special day in the schools and in the Cultural Heritage Preservation Center f Beit Sahour. Mostly Music performances and indoor events take over that occasion to praise the mother’s role in the society
Shepherds Nights and Beit Sahour Nights:
Both of these events are described as folkloric cultural and artistic three days festivals that take place during December of each year in which many local and international music groups and dance groups come to perform as such festivals became yearly cultural events that contribute to the preservation of the city’s culture.
Peace March and Candles March
Such Marchs take place on the 25th of December during Christmas as the peace march is originated the Palestinian Center for Rapprochement between people, and the candle march is organized by the Municipality of Beit Sahour before lighting the Christmas tree which starts from the Cultural Heritage Preservation Center all the way to the celebration area.
International Handicapped Day:
Beit Sahour has two organizations that take care of people with special needs, educate them and maintain their role in the local community.
Such occasion is of a high importance to Beit Sahour during which the Municipality and the local organizations brings happiness and joy to those people through organizing many events for them that include music performances and traditional folkloric dance shows as well as theatric plays and exhibitions for items made by those people in an important attempt to always maintain and keep their role alive and well remembered in our community.
The Elderly Club in Beit Sahour is an active club that takes care of the elderly people and provides them the place, the health care and the entertainments as well as celebrating their birthdays yearly.
Maintaining their role in the community and keeping these people indulged with the local society is of a high value to the people of Beit Sahour, and this is done by many activities that are organized by the municipality in cooperation with the local community organizations that include mostly traditional singing and folkloric dance.
Beit Sahour Marathon:
Beit Sahour holds an annual marathon that has three different parts, marathon for schools, women and business men, as such cultural event is one of the city’s most important events that take place yearly.
The Cultural Sport Festival:
An annual festival that takes place between schools in which schools compete against each other in many sport games such as football and basketball along with other sport types.
Such event is celebrated as well by including many dance performances and musical shows.
Beit Sahour holds many cultural activities to celebrate the above mentioned occasions through organizing many festivals that aim to keep and maintain the local heritage and culture through the above mentioned occasions.
Festivals like the Shepherds Nights, Beit Sahour Nights. Snake Cucumber festival and the Mother’s Day are events that the city celebrates yearly as they are part of the city’s culture as many folkloric dance groups and music bands participate in bringing such occasions to life and keep the importance and the significance of these occasions alive in peoples’ minds and hearts.
Occasions like Christmas, Easter, New Year’s Eve, Palm Sunday are also celebrated through holding many cultural events that include many artistic and cultural performances along with music and folkloric dance that symbolize for the significance of these events and its importance to the locals.
Events like International Women’s Day, Child’s Day, the Teacher’s Day, Earth Day and the Independence Day are a very important and of a high significance to Palestinians worldwide especially to the people of Beit Sahour, as these events have been an important part of our struggle against occupation as these occasions have also been a sign of the Palestinian presence in the world community.