Thousands of Christians from across the globe have flocked to the Palestinian city of Bethlehem for Christmas.

On the eve of Christmas day, people packed Manger Square in Bethlehem as the 1,700-year-old Church of the Nativity holds Christmas Eve Mass. A Midnight Mass was held at St Catherine's Church which is also governed by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank region.

"From this holy place, I invite politicians and men of good will to work with determination for peace and reconciliation that encompasses Palestine and Israel in the midst of all the suffering in the Middle East," said the top Roman Catholic cleric in the region, Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal.

"Please continue to fight for a just cause to achieve peace and security for the people of the Holy Land. The path (to statehood) remains long, and will require a united effort," said Twal before adding that the celebrations commemorate "the birth of Christ our Lord and the birth of the state of Palestine."

Meanwhile, Pope Benedict XVI has led the traditional Mass at the St Peter's Basilica in Vatican.

The pontiff who wrote in his latest book that Jesus' birth was mistakenly calculated, urged people to find "room for God in their fast-paced lives."

"The calculation of the beginning of our calendar - based on the birth of Jesus - was made by Dionysius Exiguus, who made a mistake in his calculations by several years. The actual date of Jesus's birth was several years before," wrote the pope in his book Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives.

Commemorating the eighth Christmas of his pontificate, the 85-year-old pope referred to the situation in the Middle East and said: "Christians in those lands where our faith was born may be able to continue living there, that Christians and Muslims may build up their countries side-by-side in God's peace."