Palestinian handicrafts made from local olive trees and mother of-pearl have become world famous. Olive wood comes in a rich variety of natural colors and shades. Carved olive wood items include boxes, picture frames, book covers, candleholders, Christmas ornaments, rosaries, urns, vases and a lot more. Crèche scenes with figures of Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and the three Magi, and the shepherds are extremely popular with tourists and pilgrims.
Nowadays, the production process starts with machine cutting it. Then, artisans chisel facial expressions and other intricate details by hand to give each piece its unique character. After sanding, the items are polished using beeswax. Today, more than 120 wood and Mother of Pearl workshops continue the tradition in the Bethlehem area.