- Title: A Christmas journey from olive orchard to Nativity carving
- Date: 23rd December 2019
- Summary: BETHLEHEM, WEST BANK (RECENT) (REUTERS) BABY JESUS SOUVENIR MADE OUT OF OLIVE TREE VARIOUS OF MANGER SCENE DISPLAY MADE OUT OF OLIVE TREE ANGEL SOUVENIR RAMALLAH, WEST BANK (RECENT) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF FARMER, HAKAM AL-ZEBEN, CUTTING OLIVE TREE BRANCH OWNER OF SOUVENIR SHOP, MAHER CANAWATI, WALKING BETWEEN TREES CANAWATI CHECKING TREE ZEBEN CUTTING PART OF BRANCH (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) OWNER OF SOUVENIR SHOP AT MANGER SQUARE, MAHER CANAWATI, SAYING: "First of all, olive trees are holy trees for us, and we try as much as possible, to turn all the olive trees that we cut or have to remove from its land, to turn into eternal artefacts." WORKERS MOVING WOOD CANAWATI AND ZEBEN MOVING WOOD BETHLEHEM, WEST BANK (RECENT) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF WORKER AT WORKSHOP JALAL AL-ATRASH CARVING WOOD (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) WORKER AT WORKSHOP, JALAL AL-ATRASH, SAYING: "It's known that the olive tree is a holy tree in Palestine and we make artefacts from a holy tree for the tourists that come to Palestine from all over the world." VARIOUS OF WORKERS MOVING ARTEFACT INTO SOUVENIR SHOP CANAWATI SHOWING TOURISTS SOUVENIRS SOUVENIRS IN SHOP
- Embargoed: 6th January 2020 11:09
- Keywords: Bethlehem Christmas Olive trees West Bank arts and crafts holiday season souvernirs tourists
- Location: RAMALLAH, BETHLEHEM, WEST BANK
- City: RAMALLAH, BETHLEHEM, WEST BANK
- Country: Palestinian Territories
- Topics: Religion/Belief,Society/Social Issues
- Reuters ID: LVA001BB75KXZ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: As Christmas pilgrims pore over the intricately carved Nativity scenes in Bethlehem shop windows, few pause to consider that some of the wood used comes from olive trees older than the events of the story that they depict.
The lacquered wooden manger displays are some of the most popular souvenirs bought by tourists visiting the West Bank Palestinian town that is by tradition the birthplace of Jesus.
Costing anything from $2 to $70,000 depending on size and quality they are carved by one of around 125 workshops in and around Bethlehem, each putting its own distinctive stamp on the figurines of Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, Wise Men and angels.
Maher Canawati, CEO of The Three Arches, a family-run business going back to the 16th century, said an American bank last year paid him $120,000 for a particularly large display to be installed in its lobby. Most, he said, sell for around $600 to $800.
Canawati, 41, said the trees can be 2,000 to 3,000 years old, but his industry faces heavy fines if a tree is killed. The figurines are carved from branches cut off during the pruning season in November and December, he said.
And the large trunks used for the Nativity scenes are usually from trees that have been moved for new buildings or roadworks, and that failed to 'take' in their new location.
Canawati said they wait two seasons to make sure the trees are dead before cutting them down.
(Production: Mohammed Abu Ganeyeh, Stephen Farrell)
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