Russian Christmas: preparing in the Holy Land

Church in Moscow.

Starting on Christmas Eve, January 6, the Church of Jerusalem, Greek, Syrian, Coptic and Ethiopian Orthodox Christians in the Middle East will begin to gather on Manger Square in Bethlehem for Christmas celebrations.

In Bethlehem:

The Syrian and Coptic Patriarchs are expected to arrive at Manger Square in the morning and the Greek Archbishop will arrive in the afternoon.

The Coptic Liturgy will begin at 2230 (10:30 pm) and the Syrian Liturgy will begin at 2300 (11 pm).

The Greek Midnight liturgy will go from 2400 Christmas Eve to 3:30am on Christmas morning at the 1700 year old Church of the Nativity. The Romanian Church will participate in the Greek service.

The Ethiopian Church services include Vespers at Manager Square at 4pm and afterward a procession travels to the Church of Eyesus at the Ethiopian Monastery of Peace on Milk Grotto Street. The liturgy begins at Midnight and usually lasts until 6am on Christmas Day, January 7.

Meanwhile in Jerusalem:

The very first Christian church in the world was the Church of Jerusalem, an Eastern Orthodox Christian body. It is headquartered at Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre, headed by Patriarch Theophilos III.

The Church of Jerusalem/Greek Christmas Eve services begin at 2300 (11 pm) at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, ending around 3am on Christmas morning, January 7.

Romanian Church services take place at the Romanian Church on Shivtei Israel Street 46 on Christmas Eve with Vespers at 1900 (7 pm) and Liturgy at 2030 (8:30 pm).

Russian services can be found in 2 places:

St. Mary Magdalene, in Gethsemane
Jan. 6, 10 a.m. Vespers and followed by the Liturgy of St. Basil, evening Vigil service at 1700 (5 pm). Then on Christmas Day, January 7 the divine liturgy is served at 8 in the morning.

Russian services will also be observed in the Russian Compound on Sheshin Street in the Embassy’s St. Alexandra Chapel. Christmas Eve services are Vespers at 1700 (5pm) and the Midnight liturgy at 2400 lasting until about 4 on Christmas morning, January 7.

The Armenian Church services will be led by the Armenian Archbishop at the Basilica of the Nativity at Manger Square.

The Roman Catholic Christmas took place on 25 December. Protestants observe Christmas on the same date as the Roman Catholic Church.