Bay Area Holiday Tradition “Bethlehem A.D.” Ending After 30 Years
Thanks to SF Gate for sharing the news that one of the USA’s largest living nativity scenes is hosting its final Bethlehem A.D.. a Bay Area tradition for the past 30 years. Sadly, the “Disneyland of Nativity scenes” is hosting its last event in 2022 because the land has been sold. The event organizers do not think the event will carry on unless new land is offered and new organizers take up the event elsewhere.
Visit the town of Bethlehem on the night of the First Christmas for a 20-minute walk-through experience with hundreds of live actors, Roman centurions riding horseback, plus live sheep, llamas, and camels roaming the recreated village. Visit the final recreation December 21-23 from 6-9:30 pm, rain or shine. Admission is free.
December 21-23, 2022 | 6-9:30 pm
1300 Middlefield Road, Redwood City, CA
The public can walk through the village, interacting with the colorfully-costumed townspeople who are cooking over fires, creating pottery, buying and selling items in the marketplace, and giving account of themselves to the census taker. Visitors can observe and mingle with Roman centurions on horseback while sages and scholars discussing scripture at the synagogue, wonder about the news that the Messiah has been born. Children especially love seeing thelive sheep, camels, llamas, Brahma bulls, and donkeys wandering through the village. If you are careful, you might even spot the Three Wise men as they carry their gifts in search of the newborn King.
Outside the village, visitors waiting for their turn to enter can choose to listen to an audio tape (in English and in Spanish) explaining the historical context of the original Christmas. The mood outside Bethlehem A.D. is as lively as within the village walls. Roman centurions mingle with Redwood City police to help direct traffic as Bethlehem villagers mingle with modern-day sojourners standing in line. Searchlights crisscross the night sky, pointing the way to the manger. Music fills the air and a sense of joy and anticipation permeates the entire city block, as well as a deep sense of community uniting people of diverse cultural, religious, and economic backgrounds.
After leaving Bethlehem, visitors receive a Certificate of Pilgrimage and can choose to cross the street to Rise City Church where free refreshments (hot coffee, cider, and homemade doughnuts) are served on the festively lit patio. The church sanctuary is warm and inviting, allowing for personal reflection about the experience, with a live video feed of the manger and village. Traditional Christmas carols are sung between times of prayer and reflection. The community room is alive with children and families enjoying refreshments and fellowship. For anyone searching for the real meaning of Christmas, the answer can be found within the walls of BETHLEHEM A.D.