ORTHODOX CHRISTMAS GLOOMY IN BETHLEHEM
The Gazette (Montreal)
January 7, 2007 Sunday
Greek Orthodox followers huddled under doorways around Manger Square
in Bethlehem as bouts of heavy rain marked the start of Christmas Eve
celebrations yesterday at what is believed to be Christ’s birthplace.
The Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III began
Christmas ceremonies for Greek, Syrian and Coptic churches at the
ancient Church of the Nativity.
The Romanian and Ethiopian churches also joined in rites that were
attended by local tourists and international pilgrims, but in lower
numbers than in previous years. Security concerns contributed to a
drop in tourist numbers.
The Orthodox faith uses the old Julian calendar in which Christmas
falls 13 days after its more widespread Gregorian calendar counterpart
on Dec. 25.
The Armenian Church will celebrate the city’s third Christmas on Jan.