You may not know but Christ is born more than one time in Bethlehem, Palestine. On the 7th of January every year, Bethlehem celebrates Christmas with the Greek Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox, Coptic’s and Ethiopian Christian and that is not the end of it; on the 17th of January the Armenians will start their Christmas celebrations.
On the night of the 6th of January, the Basilica of the nativity gets packed with local believers as well as international pilgrims. One can see the Russians, Greeks, Arabs, Africans, Europeans, Americans and Latin Americans all trying to squeeze in and find a place to simply pray. If you listen carefully, you can hear Greek, Arabic, Aramaic, and other languages all in the same time, and that’s because all sects have their mid-night mass at the same time. Moreover, the smell of incense along side with the gospel of Matthew and the story of the Birth of Jesus sung in different languages is enough to capture all your senses and leave you breathless.
The highest priest, old nuns and priests are the only ones allowed to attend the exclusive mid-night mass at the Grotto of the Nativity. Extremely crowded, over heated, Young Russian and Greek nuns praying with tears dropping on their cheeks, bread and wine on top of the altar, priests wearing colorful dresses, big crosses and big beards reading the gospel and others holding candles, while others are singing each on in his language; and me, I was taking pictures.
What a lifetime experience it is,
Enjoy some of the moments I captured, and Merry Greek, Syrian, Coptic and Ethiopian Christmas. And almost happy new Easter New Year …
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