17 December 2010


Fuheis is 20 km northwest of Amman and is one of only two predominately Christian towns in Jordan. The other is Madaba. It is 100 km from Jerusalem and 250 km from Damascus. The 13,000 residents are primarily Greek Orthodox (60%) with Muslims and Catholics making up the rest of the population. Most of the residents of Fuheis work in trade, olive farming and the cement industry. 

Christians were resident in the village at the arrival of the Muslims and have remained there until present times. It is a quaint village dotted with galleries and restaurants as well as a group of craft shops offering antiques, jewellery, ceramics and weaving. Outdoor concerts and theatre can be enjoyed during the summer months. 

Christmas is Arabic is “Eid al-Miilaad” which means “festival/feast of the birth”. For the second year The Fuheis Christmas Festival is being held, even now. Her Majesty, Queen Rania acted as the patron of the first festival last year (2009). Jordan’s tallest Christmas tree towers 26 meters above the town’s Shaker Circle serving as a beacon of the season. In addition can be seen the country’s largest nativity scene. The lamps are decorated with wreaths and the shopowners are showing everyone the famous Fuheisi hospitality. The entire time of the festival the Fuheis Christmas bazaar will be offering arts and crafts as well as holiday delicacies made by local residents and craftsmen. A wine made with locally grown grapes by local wine-makers is also available. 

The rich cultural history is on display at the heritage museum in the Roman Orthodox Church, who also perform Christmas carols in both Arabic and English. The 2010 festival will see events through 24th December that include art exhibits, a comedy play and a live concert. Jordan has a wide variety of Christian holy sites. Tourism officials are rightly branding this stunningly beautiful country as an alternative destination for the Christmas holiday season. 

As an American expatriate I love that fact that here you don’t have to worry about “offending” someone by wishing them a Merry Christmas. None of that “Happy Holiday” business here. It is still celebrated as a festival of Jesus’ birth rather than an orgy of commercialism and political correctness. To quote a blogger named Brian, another American expatriate whose post I read recently, “If you’re Christian you celebrate Christmas and that’s what everyone calls it because that’s what it is.”


Her Majesty, Queen Rania with Fuheis children

Bedouins at Christmas tree lighting

Bedouins with Santas

HRH Prince Raed

Santa greeting children

Children in Santa costume

More Santas

Santas everywhere!

The tallest Christmas tree in Jordan at Fuheis

HM Queen Rania

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