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Celebrations Mark Easter in Jerusalem

24 April, 201124 April, 2011 0 comments Geography Geography

From the Holy Fire Ceremony on Saturday to all-night services and sunrise celebrations on Sunday, Christians in Israel reveled in Easter festivities celebrating the resurrection of Jesus.

For many Orthodox Christians, the climax of the Easter season is on Saturday at the Holy Fire ceremony.

Angelina Karageuzian, an Armenian Orthodox Christian, told Travelujah she goes to the service every year - and it never gets old for her. She walked with the Armenian processional to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre at 11 a.m. where she and thousands of other faithful - local Christians and pilgrims alike - waited standing for the ceremony at 2 p.m.

holy sepulchre, tomb, easter“That moment when the light comes out, it’s a different, special feeling,” she said. “I wait for that moment. I am ready to wait for hours for that moment. It is very spiritual.”

Some 10,000 worshippers packed into the Holy Sepulchre for the ceremony including Greek, Russian, Armenian Orthodox and Coptic and Syrian Christians. From early morning, Christians begin to crowd into the Old City to get into the church.

The Holy Fire ceremony has been taking place at the Holy Sepulchre for 1,200 years. Worshippers believe that a flame miraculously emerges from the tomb of Jesus at 2 p.m. each year. Greek and Armenian clergymen in the tomb catch the flame with their candles and then pass it to the congregants in the dark, cavernous church. As the flame is passed from person to person, the church lights up with the candles of 10,000 worshippers and the church bells announce the arrival of the light.

Each person holds a bundle of 33 slim candles bundled together, the number representing Jesus’ age before he was taken to Heaven. The flame is passed to anyone waiting with a candle, from inside the church all the way to those who couldn’t get passed the police barriers at Jaffa Gate. THe same day, candles ignited by the same flame are flown out to Orthodox communities throughout Israel, the Palestinian territories and the world. Some Catholics attend, although the ceremony is not endorsed by the church.

easter, holy landScouts from all the churches beat their drums in a festive procession leading the way to the Holy Sepulchre.

For Catholics and Protestants, Sunday is the primary day to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. A sunrise service took place at the Garden Tomb, a place where many Protestants believe the tomb of Jesus could be located. Several services in different languages took place throughout the day.

In the Old City, masses were held at the Holy Sepulchre and the churches in each of the convents marking the many Christian communities.

Traditionally, Christians have a large feast on Sunday afternoon before another afternoon mass.

By Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah

Nicole Jansezian writes for www.travelujah.com, the only Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. Travelujah is a vibrant online community offering high quality Christian content, user and expert blogs, travel tours and planning services for people interested in connecting with or traveling to the Holy Land.


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