Orthodox Armenians start Christmas celebrations in Bethlehem

BETHLEHEM, The Orthodox Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem Nourhan Manougian arrived this afternoon at Manger Square in Bethlehem, marking the Armenian Christians’ celebrations of Christmas and Epiphany.

Manougian’s procession left from the Armenian Patriarchate, located in the Old City of Jerusalem, accompanied by the Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople Archbishop Sahak Mashalian, and made its way to Manger Square.

Followed by Armenian clergy and the faithful, the procession, stopped at Mar Elias Monastery on the way to Bethlehem, where Manougian was welcomed by the deputy mayor of Bethlehem, the mayors of Beit Jala and Beit Sahour.

It then proceeded to Bethlehem via an Israeli military-controlled metal gate in the concrete wall that separates Bethlehem from Jerusalem.

Upon reaching Bethlehem, the primate of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem was greeted by the Chairman of the High Presidential Committee of Church Affairs Ramzi Khoury, Bethlehem Governor Kamel Hmeid, Bethlehem Mayor Hanna Hanania in addition to security officials.

The Patriarch was also greeted upon his arrival by notables of the Armenian community before making a solemn entry into the Basilica and Grotto of the Nativity and St. Catherine’s Church.

Palestinian scout troops marched towards Manger Square banging drums and playing bagpipes and passing along the narrow cobble-stoned route, known as the Star Street, as they entertained local faithful who gathered at the square ahead of the expected arrival of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem.

Palestinian officials are expected to attend the Christmas service and midnight mass.

Orthodox Armenian Christians in Palestine celebrate Christmas nearly two weeks after the majority of the Greek Orthodox Church and other Eastern Orthodox denominations, who marked the feast on January 7, and more than three weeks after the Roman Catholic Christians, who celebrated it on December 25.

The differences in dates of the Christmas feast are due to the use of different calendars. Roman Catholic Christians and other western denominations mark the feast using the Gregorian calendar, Orthodox Christians and most Armenian denominations celebrate the feast using the Julian calendar, while the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem marks Christmas and Epiphany together on January 19.

Source: Palestine News & Info Agency