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!)
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. They probably had water to drink and ate bread with herbs and oil. It wasn’t an extravagant dinner Bethlehem menu!
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, 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.
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!
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.
GRAB COOKING THROUGH CHRISTMAS FOR CHRISTIAN KIDS
What Do You Include In Your Bethlehem Meal?
For our Bethlehem dinner, we included:
- Pomegranate seeds
- Feta cheese
- Olive oil with rosemary
- Roasted figs
- Pickled onions
- Halva butter
- Flat bread (we used Naan)
Although these weren’t available during Biblical times, 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!).
Bethlehem Dinner Tip #2: Make a communal food spread.
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 meal.
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, 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, there was no electricity during this time.
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.
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).
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.
- Matthew 1:18-23
- Matthew 2:1-12
- Luke 2:7
- Luke 2:21
- Luke 2:11-14
- Matthew 2:11-12
ALSO CHECK OUT: Printable Christmas Story Bible Verses Advent Calendar
Bethlehem Dinner Tip #8: Read children’s Christmas books.
Let us know if you create a Bethlehem journey dinner and how it goes! Tag us @LilCooksReading on Instagram so we can see your pics!
Hosting Bethlehem dinners are great ways to create Christ-centered Christmas traditions!