Ryde transformed into downtown Bethlehem

STEP back in time 2000 years and experience what life could have been like in Bethlehem on that very first Christmas!

Downtown Bethlehem is an authentic local Christmas event with a difference.

It will take place this Sunday December 3 at Ryde Presbyterian Church, corner Squire & Bowden streets, Ryde from 6pm with a Downtown Bethlehem Festival followed by Carols Under The Stars at 7.30pm.

“The idea is to experience, through street theatre, what Bethlehem would have been like 2000 years ago,” says Juli Secker, organiser of the event.

“We wanted to celebrate Christmas in a new and unique way and open that up to the community. So many people have different ideas of what Christmas is and we wanted to share with the community what that first Christmas would have been like.”

Members of Ryde and Macquarie Chapel Presbyterian churches have combined forces to create this special event – and they can’t wait to share the event with the local community.

Secker says Downtown Bethlehem would have been very different to how we live today.

“When Mary and Joseph first came to Bethlehem, they came with a donkey. They walked on foot, so they just carried what they could. They had to go back to their home town for the census of Emperor Augustus, so it was like a big family reunion. There would have been market stalls and animals everywhere. The town would have been overflowing, which was why Mary and Joseph had to stay in a stable, which is where Mary gave birth to the baby Jesus.”

Downtown Bethlehem will include street theatre featuring Mary, Joseph and their donkey, lots of animals, including a Kindifarm, some very authentic Roman soldiers, Israeli dancing, shepherds, and market stalls from the time including a carpentry workshop, a treasure bizarre, hand spinning & herbs and spices stalls.

Children will have the chance to enjoy some messy fun making pottery or baking their own bread, while adults can enjoy a delicious spit roast middle eastern style meal available to purchase.

Visitors will be asked to sign the census and ‘pay their taxes’ by contributing an item of food, or a gold coin for the less fortunate.

All food items and coin donations will go to local community aid groups for their Christmas appeals.

The event will also have both a middle-eastern flavour of Bethlehem, as well as Australian flavor with a bush dance, chill cafŽ with live music, and an Aussie sausage sizzle.

At 7.30pm as the festival part wraps up, visitors can get cozy and enjoy Carols under the Starts, with a drama presentation of that very first Christmas, puppets, carol singing and listening to Macquarie Chapel’s award winning choir sing items from Handel’s Messiah.

Bring a gold coin or an item of non-perishable food to donate.