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Palestinian Armenian community celebrates Christmas
Published Saturday 18/01/2014 (updated) 20/01/2014 14:21
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BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Armenian Christians in Palestine are celebrating Christmas on Saturday with a procession through the streets of Jesus Christ's birthplace.

The Armenian patriarch of Jerusalem Nourhan Manougian arrived before noon in Bethlehem and marched to the Church of the Nativity, the site in the city's historic center where Jesus is believed to have been born.

In anticipation of the event, streets were decorated and locals came out to watch. Bethlehem police director Luay Zreiqat told Ma'an that 150 police officers were deployed along the route of the march, and dozens of police officers were stationed in Manger Square as well.

Palestinian Armenian Christians who follow the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem mark Christmas nearly two weeks after the majority of Armenian and Eastern Orthodox denominations, who mark the holiday on Jan. 6 or 7, and more than three weeks after Western Christians mark Christmas, who celebrate on Dec. 25.

The differences in dates of celebration are due to the use of different calendars, as Western Christians mark the holiday using the Gregorian calendar, Orthodox Christians and most Armenian denominations mark the holiday using the Julian calendar, and the Armenian patriarch of Jerusalem marks Christmas using the Julian calendar but with a different date.

Groups of Armenians began moving to Palestine beginning in the fourth century and mainly settled in Jerusalem, where, in the seventh century, they established a Patriarchate Complex which has since attracted Armenian pilgrims.

Thousands of Armenians also arrived fleeing the massacres in the Ottoman Empire in the early 20th century, after which many settled in Palestine.

According to Armenian sources, some 7,500 Armenians today live across the Holy Land. About 300 live in Bethlehem, 2,100 in Jerusalem and the rest live in Acre, Ramle, Nazareth, and Beersheba. There are a small number of Armenians in the Gaza Strip as well.

There are around 200,000 Palestinian Christians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and inside Israel in total, while hundreds of thousands more live abroad.

1 ) JoeUSA / USA
18/01/2014 16:27
Merry Christmas . I hope and wish that someday soon , the heads get together and decide on one Christmas day for all.

2 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
18/01/2014 19:28
With Jews officially banned from the future Palestinian state, can the Christians be far behind? With Hamas threatening to dominatie the PA, all indications are that the Palestinian Christians are an endangered species.

3 ) Geraldina / Australia
18/01/2014 19:57
Anyone know of any other Armenian community who have been able to celebrate openly, in any of the fifty seven Islamic countries?

4 ) Colin Wright / USA
18/01/2014 20:27
To Brian Cohen #6: Tell us about the big parades indigenous Christians hold in Israel proper, Brain.

5 ) Rabiah / Gaza, Ps
18/01/2014 21:25
Happy Christmas to the Armenian Christian community, both in Palestine & the world. #2 - Brian Cohen: Only you could post & attempt to spoil what is a joyous occasion for this particular Christian community. The Christians living under both Hamas & the PA are well respected, protected & welcome. The reason Zionists are NOT welcome in Palestine should be obvious, look at your long history of oppression & occupation, then ask yourself why we don't want you there, it's nothing to do with religion.

6 ) Mari / USA
18/01/2014 21:49
Geraldina, Armenians in Iran and Kwait openly celebrate Christmas and attend church. Some of the Moslem community in Iran put up Christmas trees as well.

7 ) Colin Wright / USA
18/01/2014 22:26
To Mari #6: 'Geraldina, Armenians in Iran and Kwait openly celebrate Christmas and attend church. Some of the Moslem community in Iran put up Christmas trees as well.' Ditto for Turkey, I believe. Still waiting for Brian to tell me about those big indigenous Christian parades in Israel, though.

8 ) Dildo Carver / Australia
18/01/2014 23:20
@4 Arab Christians and guest workers in Israel who are Christian, celebrate Mass in Churches all over Israel. @ And how about the other remaining fifty four Islamic countries, any thing to report from those countries about freedom of religion for Christians.

9 ) Rami / Palestine
19/01/2014 08:18
#2 Your stupid doomsday prophecy for Christians will never happen despite however much you want it to happen...I suppose to propel your Zionist PR agenda of Israel being the only safe haven for Christians? (Its not...not even by a long shot). There are no indications whatsoever that "Christians are an endangered species" in Palestine whether that's Gaza or the West Bank (as for EJ...if that's happening, it's your own doing). Cont'd.....

10 ) Rami / Palestine
19/01/2014 08:29
The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) which consist of representatives from all Palestinian political parties (including Hamas), have both Christian and Muslim members. There are also MORE CHRISTIANS in the West Bank and Gaza combined than there are in all of Israel and their relations with Arab Muslims are much better than the relations between Christians and Jews in Israel which is based preferential racist treatment in favor of Jews only.

11 ) Sofia / Bulgaria
19/01/2014 09:53
@4 Colin Wright: I always enjoy Israel's lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender parades, but you do not see any of those in an Islamic country.

12 ) Rene / US
19/01/2014 10:40
@#3, In Iran. I watched a video of Iranian Armenian Christians in their Church with their priests January 7 2014. I heard their Mass and heard them speak outside the Church after Mass.

13 ) Robert / US
19/01/2014 12:49
#2 Brian another stupid remark why ?. Jews were always welcomed as long as they behaved and didnt cause trouble... I know alot more about this conflict then you do...I know all the heavy hitters on both sides some I know personally. .

14 ) Arnold / c
19/01/2014 19:41
Colin Wright berating Brian Cohen about parades. Did I miss something ? Where does Brian Cohen mention anything about parades ?

15 ) Colin Wright / USA
19/01/2014 21:38
Sofia #11: '@4 Colin Wright: I always enjoy Israel's lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender parades, but you do not see any of those in an Islamic country.' That's a red herring. The discussion is about Judaism's intolerance of Christianity -- not about its supposed tolerance or lack thereof of sexual deviance. However, try on your parade in Mea Shearim and let me know how it pans out.

16 ) Manoog / Switzerland
20/01/2014 04:13
Does anyone care about x-mas? Do you know what is being celebrated here? Does anyone care about poor investigation of x-mas tradition in the Early Church? Does anyone care about minority rights in general? - No, no, no and no. Most commentators should simply stop fighting each other when everybody starts laughing at this silly behaviour. No bystander is any longer really interested in your way of maintaining your perpetual conflict. It is tough but people outside Palestine/Israel are bored.

17 ) Rami / Palestine
20/01/2014 08:23
#11 When did LGBT rights become a litmus test for democracy? Lest we forget that Gay marriage is not legal in most parts of the America (the so-called "superpower"), and many parts of Europe are still rooted in old world traditional beliefs that outright prejudice (sometimes violently) against LGBT...and of course, Russia is currently waging a war against LGBT. Of course, good old Israel...where it's OK to have a gay pride parade in Jerusalem but where Rabbis also say its OK to kill Arabs.

18 ) art hagopian / Canada
20/01/2014 19:20
About Xmas in moslem countries. I was born in Egypt and every year government representatives attended our church service. I was a scout and we marched thru the streets of Cairo to the church. After the revolution one year even the president Mohammed Naguib(before Nasser) attended the service.

19 ) Colin Wright / USA
21/01/2014 01:00
to Manoog #16: 'It is tough but people outside Palestine/Israel are bored.' Given that my country sponsors one of the teams to the tune of three billion dollars a year plus unlimited diplomatic support, 'boredom' isn't really an option. It'd be like a German ignoring all those trains of Jews leaving for the East because they are 'boring.' This happens to be a crime the collective I am part of is committing -- and I have an obligation to do what I can to bring our participation to an end.

20 ) Colin Wright / USA
21/01/2014 01:03
To Arnold #14: 'Colin Wright berating Brian Cohen about parades. Did I miss something ? Where does Brian Cohen mention anything about parades ?' I know as a Zionist it's hard -- but don't be disingenuous. Brian manages to imply Christians are in more jeopardy in Palestine than they are in Israel.
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