Tens of thousands of tourists and Christian pilgrims packed the West Bank town of Bethlehem for Christmas Eve celebrations Saturday, bringing warm holiday cheer to the traditional birthplace of Jesus on a raw, breezy and rainy night.
With turnout at its highest in more than a decade, proud Palestinian officials said they were praying the celebrations would bring them closer to their dream of independence.
The thousands of Christians in Turkey began their Christmas celebrations on December 24th 2011. At the Fener Greek Patriarchate on Sunday morning, many Christians celebrated Christmas Day. Along with local Orthodox Christians, hundreds of Orthodox Christians from different provinces of Turkey and abroad attended the service led by Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew. The service began at 9 a.m. in the Aya Yorgi church located in the garden of the Fener Greek Patriarchate.
On December 19, 2011, on the eve of his Name Day, His Beatitude Patriarch Ignatius IV of the Great Antioch and All the East visited the Church of St. Ignatius the God-Bearer – the Representation of the Russian Orthodox Church in Damascus, where he officiated at Great Vespers. Two choirs sang hymns in the Arabic and Church Slavonic languages, the Representation’s site reports.
Primate of Greek Orthodox Church attends concert of Russian church music in AthensPrimate of Greek Orthodox Church attends concert of Russian church music in Athens23. December 2011 - 11:17
On December 12, 2011, a recital of Russian church music was given at the Megaro Mousikis palace in Athens by the Moscow Synodal Choir, the children’s choir of the Moscow Choral Academy and the orchestra of the Center of Greek Music in Athens. They performed ‘Christmas Oratorio’ by Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk.
Present at the concert were Archbishop Hieronymos of Athens and All Greece of Athens and All Greece, Metropolitan John of Pergamon (Patriarchate of Constantinople), Greek hierarchs and clergy as well as political and public figures.
Bishop Jonah of Obukhov, a vicar of the Kiev metropolia, leads a pilgrims’ group from Ukraine to Georgia with the blessing of His Beatitude Metropolitan Vladimir, Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
The pilgrims stayed in Georgia from 5-9 December and visited monasteries and churches in Tbilisi, Mtskheta, and other cities. They prayed for the health of Hid Beatitude Metropolitan Vladimir, official website of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church reports.
His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, and His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, concelebrated the Divine Liturgy for the first time at the Synodal Cathedral of the Sign, New York, NY, on Saturday, December 10, 2011. The celebration marked the first time in nearly 70 years that the primates and hierarchs of the OCA and ROCOR have concelebrated. It is noteworthy that the Liturgy was celebrated on the cathedral’s Patronal Feast of the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God, which was present during the Divine Liturgy.