Hosting an authentic Bethlehem dinner is a unique way to commemorate the birth of the Savior. Gather together with your closest family and friends to eat food similar to what was available when Jesus Christ was alive.
We have gathered research and recipes to help you host your very own Bethlehem dinner this Christmas season.
Bread was a staple of the ancient Israelite diet. The scriptures make multiple references to bread and Jesus Christ even declared he was the “bread of life.”
Unleavened bread, or bread without a raising agent such as yeast, is the most recognized bread for Christians. There are multiple ways to make flatbread. For your Bethlehem dinner, you can purchase pita bread from the store or make your own. This recipe is one of our favorites.
Olives & Olive Oil
Dip your bread in olive oil! Olives are an abundant natural resource in Israel. Incorporate them into your meal by eating olives fresh or taking a more modern spin with a Mediterranean style salad. Here is a yummy recipe that features olives and feta.
Many of the Apostles were fishermen and we even have a scriptural account of Christ cooking fish on the shore.
Cook tilapia at your dinner; it was a known species in the Sea of Galilee and is even called “St. Peter’s Fish.” We like the look of the crunch on this Panko-crusted tilapia.
Honey was a natural sweetener in Christ’s time. Drizzle honey on bread or fresh fruits. For a modernized take on honey, make your own honeycomb candy. It is delicious plain, dipped in chocolate, or crumbled over ice cream.
Figs & Dates
Both figs and dates were common and eaten daily. You can eat them both fresh and dried. Of the two, dates are easier to find in your local grocery store.
Wine was the principle alcoholic beverage of the ancient Israelite people. For a non-alcoholic version, mix grape juice with sparkling soda. Pre-made sparkling juices are also available for purchase.
If needed, send out a dinner invitation. We suggest making it from Ceasar Augustus. Make sure to give clear instructions if you are asking others to bring a part of the meal. Include resources for finding and preparing unfamiliar food.
Electrical lighting didn’t exist in Bethlehem. Eat by candlelight or lanterns. If you want to be extra-authentic, use oil lamps.
Gather around a low coffee table and sit on cushions or low benches.