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The Important Christian Feasts
submitted by Turathuna Bethlehem University

The following are some of the important Christian feasts.

1- Christmas in Bethlehem:

As the Church of the Nativity belongs to three Christian denominations, the Latin, Greek Orthodox and Armenian Orthodox denominations, Christmas is celebrated on three different dates every year. The Latin denomination celebrates Christmas on 25th December. Many thousands of tourists from all parts of the world participate in the celebrations.

The Greek Orthodox denomination celebrates this feast on 7th January. Large numbers of Christians from the east, particularly Greeks, participate in the celebration.

The Armenian Orthodox denomination celebrates Christmas on 19th January. The number of foreign visitors who participate in this celebration is small.

On the day after Christmas, many go to the Shepherds' Field Church to the east of Beit Sahour to attend afternoon prayers at the old subterranean church. On the second day after Christmas the Latins also go to the Shepherds' Church, a short distance away from the first one.

2- New Year's Feast:
This is a well-known feast. The western Christians celebrate it on 1/1/, the Oriental Christians on 14/1. The Muslims celebrate it on the First day of Muharram (A.H.). All people become optimistic at its advent, hoping it will usher in prosperity and happiness.

3- The Feast Of Epiphany
On this feast the Greek Orthodox pray in the nave of the Church known as "Bein il 'Imdan" on water in a wooden barrel. Most of them bring with them small empty bottles which they fill from that barrel and take home as a blessing. The priests visit the houses of the community. The priest enters the house holding in his hand a bunch of basil and a cross, while his assistant carries a vessel containing holy water. The priest dips the basil in the holy water and sprinkles the place, asking for blessings on its inhabitants. On the feast of Epiphany many go to the Jordan River to attend prayers held there. The Latin clergy do likewise in their feast of Epiphany.

4- The Feast of Easter:
It is the feast of the resurrection of Lord Jesus from the dead. It is also called the Great Feast. It always falls on a Sunday. All denominations celebrate this feast on one day once every four years, when it is called Leap Year which happened in 1990.

Religious celebrations are held on Thursday, Friday and Saturday proceeding Easter Sunday. Therefore it is said: Thursday is the Crucifixion Day; Friday is the Sad Friday; Saturday is the Saturday of Light; and Sunday is the Sunday of happiness and joy.

Source:"Bethlehem, The Immortal Town" by Giries Elali

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