If you are considering a visit to the Holy Land, why not take a tourthat combines sightseeing with visits to some of the ancient people groups in the region? This unique opportunity will enable you to learn more about the cultures and traditions of the area, as well as engage with fascinating spiritual practises that are centuries old.
Today we are taking the opportunity to learn a bit more about the various people groups who called the area their home, and who you might have the privilege of encountering on a Holy Land tour.
The Bedouin cannot strictly be described as a minority group as they make up 3% of the Israeli population. However, they have a distinctive cultural identity which sets them apart from many other inhabitants of Israel. The Bedouin tribe have a nomadic heritage and traditionally lived in the Negev Desert, moving there a few hundred years ago from the north Arabian Peninsula. The tribe moved with their livestock, meandering from pasture to pasture so their animals could graze. Neither the Ottomans nor the British treated the Bedouin’s claims to land seriously, so this is a community that has been ignored for a long time.
If you have the opportunity to meet with any Bedouin people whilst on a Holy Land tour, you’ll learn about the pros and cons of contemporary educational, medical and social initiatives which aim to bring modern comforts to the tribespeople.
The Druze are a fascinating community of people who live on the Lebanon border and view themselves as Syrian. In the tenth-century they moved away from orthodox Islam as practiced in Egypt and evolved their own version of the monotheistic religions. In their belief system, Jesus, Moses and Mohammed have equal status. The Druze do not smoke or drink alcohol and do not eat pork. They believe in reincarnation.
Visitors on a Holy Land tourmay be invited to join the Druze for a meal of traditional food and drink. Imagine the intermingling scents and flavours of cinnamon coffee, hot mint tea, sesame cake and candied squash. Delicious!
The Samaritans are the most ancient people group in the area, they can trace their ancestry back to the eighth century BC. Sadly their numbers are dwindling, yet those left have a fierce sense of identity and passionately preserve the old ways. Any Holy Land tourmust take in Mount Gerizim: this is the holiest Samaritan site as they believe that it is here that Abraham attempted to sacrifice his son Isaac. Though they follow the Torah, Samaritans do not see themselves as Jewish. Their position is precarious in this unstable region.
The ruins of a Samaritan town dating from the Hellenistic period are a ‘must-see’ in this area; if you are fortunate enough to be taking a Holy Land tourat Easter, do not miss the impressive local Passover ceremonies that take place on Mount Gerizim.
John Dixon is an experienced world traveller and the Managing Director of Prestige Holidays. For over 30 years, he has been providing luxury holidays to many destinations around the globe. Recently his well-received Holy Land tour has been included in the holiday portfolio. John tries to visit each of the destinations regularly in order to ensure the quality of his properties, and stay up-to-date about the latest local news and events. He has a taste for the finer things in life and has an interest in arts, history and culture.