By JACK JEFFERY
BETHLEHEM, West Bank (AP) — Musicians banging drums and playing bagpipes marched through the biblical town of Bethlehem to the delight of smaller than usual crowds. The mix of conviviality and restraint on Friday was reflected in celebrations around the world on a Christmas Eve dampened once again by the coronavirus. Travel restrictions imposed by Israel kept international tourists away for a second year. The rules are meant to slow the spread of the highly contagious omicron variant. Instead, authorities were counting on the Holy Land’s small Christian community to lift spirits. It was a theme seen around the world as revelers, weary from nearly two years of lockdowns and safety restrictions, searched for ways to return to rituals that were called off last year.