WATCH: Orthodox Christmas celebrations in Bethlehem

Most Christian denominations recognize Bethlehem as the birthplace of Jesus.

January 6, 2015 23:01
1 minute read.

Orthodox Patriarch arrives at Nativity Church in Bethlehem

Orthodox Patriarch arrives at Nativity Church in Bethlehem

The Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, arrived in the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on Tuesday (January 6) ahead of Christmas Eve celebrations.

Christian tradition has the Nativity Church as the birthplace of Jesus and Christmas is celebrated by most denominations at the Bethlehem Church.

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The Patriarch was lead by a long convoy of marching bands and clergymen who marched ahead of his car. Upon his arrival at Manger square, Theophilos III, got out and walked as journalists and residents crowded his space in attempt to catch a glance of the holy man.

"We are following the eastern calendar, that's why we are approximately 13 days after the Catholic Christmas but it is all the same and we are doing this here, we are following the eastern calendar due to the church. We can not do the same Christmas for all denominations in Bethlehem, because everybody wants to use the church of the nativity. So, we are kind of trying to separate it so we can all have Christmas at the same place," resident of Bethlehem, Maher Kanawati said.

Theophilos III will lead the midnight mass at the Church of Nativity on Tuesday night.

Eastern churches include the ancient Assyrian Church, the Greek Orthodox, Armenian and the Coptic Church.

"Because we have the Church of the Nativity, this is why it (Christmas) is special here. The patriarchs come to here, during the Latin (Catholic) Christmas and during our Christmas (the Orthodox). This is the most joyful Holiday because it is when Jesus was born," Beit Sahour resident, Hiam Banora, said.

The Church of the Nativity is shared by the Eastern denominations and the Catholic Church.
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