Thursday, 16 November 2017 07:01

A journey back to Biblical times with ‘One Night in Bethlehem’

Written by  Jamie Regier
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There are a lot of different activities which the Oyen Christmas-themed event celebrates. There are a lot of different activities which the Oyen Christmas-themed event celebrates. File photo

Walking into the Crossroads Riding Arena in Oyen on Dec. 1-2 will be a journey into the past for visitors to the "One Night in Bethlehem"  interactive event.

The riding arena will be transformed into a historical Bethlehem street, complete with markets and a synagogue.
As people enter the building, they will be greeted by a census taker, like would have been in the case in Bethlehem when the Roman Empire required a census of all people entering Bethlehem. Once inside, the arena is no longer an arena, but a market street under a clear star-lit sky.
"When they come into the building, they will be greeted by a census taker because back then when people went to Bethlehem there was a census taker for the Roman Empire," said Andrea Shields, one of the organizers, who added that along the street will be booths where people can interact and be creative.
"There will be a bread-making shop where they can make their own little loaf to take home, perfume shop where they can make a small bottle of perfume, a wood shop where they will be able to craft a Christmas decoration out of a small disc of wood, and a metal shop," said Shields. "There will also be a Synagogue where a Rabbi will tell the story of Jesus Christ and a produce stall filled with items one would find in Palestine and Israel, such as dates, almonds, and raisins."
A photograph booth will be set up where people can dress in Biblical-era costumes and have their photos taken and a booth where there will be some animals displayed.
All churches in Oyen are involved with putting on this event because of the magnitude of it.
"It takes the organization and dedication of volunteers from all churches in Oyen to make this event happen and everybody will be dressed as characters," she said.
The first "One Night in Bethlehem" took place in 2007 and organizers have stream-lined the event over time.
"The first year was absolutely the most exciting because it was all brand new," said Shields. "But, it was very crowded and the streets were too narrow. We learned a lot after that first year."
The event is always held the first weekend in December, which happens to be Dec. 1-2 this year. On Fri., Dec. 1, the event runs from 6-9 p.m., and on Sat., Dec. 2, it runs from 5-8 p.m.
Because the event is held indoors, they have never had to cancel or postpone.
"We have never had to cancel in the past. Most of the booths are run by local people, but we have had people not be able to come in before. The event itself has never been canceled," said Shields.

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