This post was most recently updated on January 13th, 2022
For the ‘Seventh Day of Christmas’, it’s time to prepare a Bethlehem-themed dinner. Your dinner can be a wonderful way to make Christmas more Christ-centered.
Remember that this is not meant to add any stress to your Christmas season; it can be as simple or as elaborate as you wish. Make it a time to reflect on the journey Mary and Joseph made to Bethlehem.
What was the Bethlehem journey like?
The trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem would have taken at least four to five days of walking 20 miles a day. Traveling while pregnant probably turned this into a journey of a week or more. Can you even imagine making that trip while nine months pregnant?! They probably traveled with others for safety and slept on the ground along the road. As Mary and Joseph made their way to Bethlehem, they would have carried their food with them. Their bread would have been unleavened. Other items would have been packed to sustain them, such as dried fruits and nuts, olives, olive oil, beans or hummus, goat cheese, and the juice of grapes.
We know from reading the scriptures that there was ‘no room for them in the inn’ (Luke 2:7). An inn would probably have been the source of a good meal. So, as Mary and Joseph settled down in a stable meant for animals, they would have likely eaten food they had carried with them.
Setting up Your Own Bethlehem Dinner
During Biblical times, it was more common to eat seated on the floor. Of course, they didn’t have electricity, and they typically did not use silverware. Try the following to set the stage for your Bethlehem dinner.
- Instead of eating at your dinner table, eat while seated on the floor, perhaps around a low coffee table. You can put cushions or blankets on the floor to sit on.
- Turn off your electric lights, and eat by candlelight, or near the fireplace.
- Eat by hand, without silverware.
- You can even dress in Biblical costumes if you like. A simple headdress can be made with just a square of fabric and some string to tie around the head.
What’s on the Menu for a Bethlehem-Themed Dinner?
- Unleavened Bread (I tried this recipe; it tastes very good and is easy and fast to make)
- Olives and Olive Oil (the olive oil is good for dipping bread in)
- Juice of Grapes (I don’t drink alcoholic drinks, so I bought grape juice, not wine)
- Fish (Tilapia fish fillets round out this meal for a hearty dinner, but I left it out to make my meal more simple)
- Honey (can be drizzled on bread)
- Nuts & Dates
- Pomegranate seeds
- Goat Cheese (also very good with the unleavened bread)
Make the Seventh Day of Christmas More Meaningful
As you gather for this Bethlehem-themed meal, ask your family these questions:
- What do you think Mary and Joseph did to prepare for this journey?
- What did they talk about during their many days of traveling?
- How did Joseph feel when he could find no room for them in an inn?
- Did this trip bring them closer together? Was it a faith-challenging experience?
- What witnesses did Mary and Joseph receive that God was mindful of them?
- In what ways did this journey prepare them for the future?
Summary of the Seventh Day of Christmas
Remember, there is no set order to the ’12 Days of Christmas’ ideas I have been sharing. You may prefer to have this Bethlehem-themed meal on Christmas Eve, as part of ushering in the birth of the Christ child. You can create this simple meal for your family, and you could easily invite others to join you. Another way to share this experience is to package up a few of the food items and deliver them to a neighbor with a print-out of the questions above for them to ponder.
I’d like to thank Focus on the Family and LDSDaily for their helpful articles on creating a Bethlehem-themed meal.
It tasted great, a holiday hit!
You’re right! It really did.
What a wonderful idea not only for Christmas time, but for a cultural/historic experience to help kids better understand what life would have been like in that time. Thanks for sharing the menu items, as well as those thought provoking questions!