Haifa, the major city in the north of Israel is a special city because of its magnificent mountainous view, its forest and sea that combine with Haifa’s Bahai gardens and the open markets it has makes for a modern city in balance with nature.There is however an additional reason for which the city is unique –it is where 5 religions co-exist: Jews, Christians, Muslims, Baha’i and Druze people live together while respecting each other and maintaining a peaceful co-existence. All live, work and live full lives, side by side and are a symbol of peaceful co-existence for many years now. In this spirit, common events are held during the year in the city but once a year, in December, the city gathers to celebrate the Holiday of Holidays, or – ID EL-A-ID – in Arabic and in Hebrew חג כל החגים. This is so unique that the three religions celebrate the month together.

 

The festival started in 1993, got its name due to the fact that in December all three religions celebrate holidays: The Jewish Hanukah, the Christian Christmas and the Muslim month of Ramadan. Most of the festival’s events occur in the Wadi Niss-Nass neighborhood and in the “German colony” neighborhood adjacent to it. Wadi Niss-Nass, which is located in the lower city, is one of the oldest quarters of Haifa and where Jews, Christians and Muslims have live for many years. The festival is organized by, among others, “Beit-Hagefen”, an Arab-Jew cultural center whose purpose is to serve as a meeting place for cultural and personal exchanges to encourage understanding and tolerance.There are three major components to Carnival.

 

During the course of the festival held during the weekends of December, the city is adorned with colorful, festive lights that endow the city with a special look since these are the lights of Hanukah, the light holiday of the Jews as well as Christmas lights. At the end of the lit Ben-Gurion Blvd, in the UNESCO square, there is stand side by side a Hanukiya, a Christmas tree and the crescent symbol – the symbols of the 3 religions. The sight of the lower part of the Wadi as well as of its upper part, continuing to the Baha’i gardens is an impressive one. All through the month many events are held: performances, guided tours, exhibitions, markets, street performances, activities for children, lectures and workshops.

 

In addition, religious worship music concerts, are held in the churches located in Wadi Niss-Nass and choirs from all over the world perform there, in addition to local, Israeli choirs. Music is also a symbol of equality, dialogue and tolerance. In a neighborhood in which dialogue and cooperation between the residents is part of their way of life it isn’t surprising that the neighborhood residents welcome visitors into their homes and serve them warm coffee and refreshments when they visit the city. In the galleries of Wadi Niss-Nass there is an Art Path in which Jewish and Arab artists exhibit exhibitions relating to subjects that are common to all religions. In addition to the galleries in the Wadi all museums in Haifa are open free of charge. Visiting Haifa in December is without a doubt a very unique experience for everybody –Will you be arriving in Israel in December? Don’t hesitate to go to Haifa.