Add a Bethlehem dinner to your Christmas activities with family, Christmas meal idea, or if you’re looking to add kid friendly Christmas activities to celebrate the reason for the season! If you’re looking to include the Bible Christmas story into your holiday celebrations or Christmas traditions (especially for holiday kids activities), this special holiday food celebration is a unique way to do it (even as a Christmas Eve tradition)!
What Is A Bethlehem Dinner?
A night in Bethlehem supper is great for kids’ Christmas activities and good way to honor the birth of the Savior during the Christmas season. Recreate the journey to Bethlehem, where Jesus was born, by serving traditional foods during the time. Some families even dress up and recreate sights, smells, and sounds of the time!
What do people in Bethlehem eat on Christmas?
Bethlehem Dinner Ideas:
- Grape Juice
- Figs / Dates
- Olive Oil
- Unleavened bread / wheat or barley bread
(See our full Bethlehem menu ideas and how to have a Bethlehem dinner at home ideas below! KEEP SCROLLING for the night in Bethlehem ideas!)
What did Mary and Joseph eat on the way to Bethlehem?
Mary and Joseph probably kept food very basic on their journey to Bethlehem as they had to bring their own provisions and did not have much room to bring a great deal of food. On the Mary and Joseph trip to Bethlehem they probably had water to drink and ate bread with herbs and oil. It wasn’t an extravagant dinner Bethlehem menu!
Keep reading for back to Bethlehem dinner foods!
Here’s what we did for our Journey To Bethlehem Dinner…
HOW TO HAVE A BETHLEHEM DINNER
A Bethlehem supper is really quite easy. You want to include traditional foods of Bethlehem for the time, served in simple (communal) serving bowls and platters that are shared by everyone.
This is now a favorite family activity for Christmas that we’ve added as a Christmas tradition now! It would be great to add to a Sunday school lesson on Christmas or even an Advent activity, too!
You can add this to your Christian Christmas Eve ideas, but we did ours a couple of weeks before Christmas so we didn’t feel so rushed enjoying and eating the dinner.
It’s a fun activity with families, journey to Bethlehem Sunday school lesson ideas, kids activity ideas for the holidays, or even Bible themed snacks. You can even Bethlehem community dinner with your church! Definitely add this to your Christmas Eve dinner traditions or holiday events!
FUN CRAFT: Try making a DIY star of Bethlehem craft like this as part of your kids activities!
Bethlehem Dinner Tip #1: Serve only foods that were commonly eaten during Biblical times.
Make a Bethlehem dinner menu made up of any of the foods from that time. Don’t be afraid to try new things (like figs and honey) for your journey to Bethlehem dinner night!
You can include anything you want in your Bethlehem diner menu, but it’s fun to try to stay true to the time period as much as you can for your holy supper Christmas eve event.
Traditional foods of this time included:
- Unleavened bread/wheat
- Goat cheese / feta
- Goat’s milk
- Olive Oil
- Pomegranates (learn how to cut and eat pomegranates)
Unleavened bread is a flat bread without an agent to make it rise (like yeast). You can use pita bread or naan as your unleavened bread (or even make your own Bethlehem bread recipe!).
GRAB COOKING THROUGH CHRISTMAS FOR CHRISTIAN KIDS
What Do You Include In Your Bethlehem Meal?
What do you serve at a Bethlehem dinner?
For our Bethlehem dinner, we included:
- Pomegranate seeds
- Feta cheese
- Olive oil with rosemary
- Roasted figs
- Pickled onions
- Olives (black and green)
- Halva butter
- Flat bread (we used Naan)
You can also include grape juice, hummus, plain chickpeas, stuffed grape leaves, pears and other Bethlehem foods for your celebration!
Although these weren’t available during Biblical times and definitely aren’t Christmas eve traditional food, we included toffee and chocolate from Israel that we received in a Bethlehem box. (That cute Bethlehem plate and the Halva butter came in there, too!, which ended up being perfect for a night in Bethlehem ideas.)
Consider ditching the Christmas eve traditional meal and trying this, especially if you’re looking for light Christmas eve dinner ideas!
Bethlehem Dinner Tip #2: Make a communal food spread.
For your journey to Bethlehem meal, place food on simple, communal platters and bowls that everyone shares (like these wooden serving plates).
Food during that time was eaten with hands instead of utensils, so have fun with it! We added finger bowls with water so people could regularly rinse their fingers (and this was a really good addition!).
You can serve water or grape juice with your Christmas eve food from Bethlehem.
We actually served ours on wood cheese boards that we had and they worked perfectly!
You can also spread food platters on a tablecloth on the floor or on a low table and have everyone sit on pillows around the spread.
Bethlehem Dinner Tip #3: Dress up in clothing appropriate for the time period.
If you really want to get into your Bethlehem journey or shepherds dinner, have everyone dress up in period clothing for the time!
Women’s tunics were long enough to cover their feet.
Women may have also worn head coverings (like scarves) over long hair that was braided.
Women also wore jewelry, especially bracelets.
Bethlehem Dinner Tip #4: Decorate with oil lamps or candles.
Remember, in Bethlehem in Jesus time there was no electricity.
Recreate the atmosphere by turning off the lights and instead using candles or oil lamps on your table and around the room.
Bethlehem Dinner Tip #5: Create smells from the time.
The open, outdoor markets during the time Jesus Christ was born was filled with smells — spices, animals, food, and more and really takes you through the journey of Christmas.
(We used Frankincense & Myrrh sticks like this and it worked really well to recreate the Bethlehem atmosphere!)
We found that this, the candles, and the music really added to our a night in Bethlehem dinner!
Bethlehem Dinner Tip #6: Play ancient music of the Middle East.
Music was also a big part of this time (just like any other time).
It really helped recreate Bethlehem in Bible times for our party!
Bethlehem Dinner Tip #7: Read Christmas Bible verses.
You can also go even further and take turns reading the Biblical account of Christ’s birth and the Jesus was born in Bethlehem Bible verse.
For your read aloud of the Biblical account of Christ’s birth, use these Bible verses:
- Matthew 1:18-23
- Matthew 2:1-12
- Luke 2:7
- Luke 2:21
- Luke 2:11-14
- Matthew 2:11-12
Don’t forget to say a Christmas eve dinner blessing or offer a Christmas dinner prayer for family before your Shepards dinner / Bethlehem supper!
ALSO CHECK OUT: Printable Christmas Story Bible Verses Advent Calendar
Bethlehem Diner Tip #8: Read children’s Christmas books.
To help kids better understand the journey of Bethlehem and why Bethlehem is important, add some kids books about Christ’s birth to your journey to Bethlehem meal.
You can also have discussions on why is Bethlehem important to Jesus and what did Jesus do in Bethlehem to go along with your Bethlehem Christmas dinner or even make reading and a Bethlehem supper Christmas Eve tradition!
Books on Birth of Jesus for Kids and for kids Christmas activities:
The Night Of His Birth
Home By Another Way
Twas The Evening Of Christmas
Let us know if you create a Bethlehem journey dinner or Bible themed party for Christmas and how it goes! Tag us @LilCooksReading on Instagram so we can see your pics!
What are you doing for Christmas?
Hosting Bethlehem dinners are great ways to create Christ-centered Christmas traditions, especially if you find yourself asking what do you do Christmas eve or what do you eat on Christmas eve!
(This is definitely a new tradition Christmas eve dinner for us!)
You may even find that change your family traditional Christmas dinner or traditional Christmas eve meal to a Bethlehem journey Christmas dinner!