As snow disrupted traffic in Jerusalem, three churches celebrated the eastern Christmas with masses in Bethlehem on Thursday (6 January).
SV People and cars in snow in streets (4 shots)
GV & CU Bell ringing for procession (3 shots)
CU Crowd waiting for procession (3 shots)
GV Troops in street (2 shots)
GV Crowd outside church
GV Crowd watches start of procession (4 shots)
SV Leader of Assyrians with Bethlehem's Mayor (right) and Military Commander of Bethlehem (3 shots)
SV Patriarch enters Church of Nativity
GV Greek Orthodox members during procession (2 shots)
SV Greek Orthodox group enters church (2 shots)
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Background: As snow disrupted traffic in Jerusalem, three churches celebrated the eastern Christmas with masses in Bethlehem on Thursday (6 January).
SYNOPSIS: In Jerusalem, the snow settled only briefly. But it was enough to cause extensive disruption of traffic in city streets. Heavy machinery was called out to clear the roads before many people could move their cars. More snow is expected to fall in the higher regions of Israel in the next few days.
Meanwhile, in nearby Bethlehem, members of three churches celebrated the eastern Christmas which falls 12 days after that celebrated in the West. The churches involved were the Assyrians, the Copts and the Greek Orthodox, and the event was marked with large parades which attracted thousands of people. Several soldiers were also stationed along the route of the parades.
Under the calendar followed by the churches, the day is called Epiphany and, with five other festivals, marks one of the stages of the year. Epiphany is first known to have been celebrated in the third century, but it may be older than that. It celebrates the manifestation of God to the world in Jesus Christ.
Thursday's ceremony was led by the Assyrian Patriarch, who is seen here with Bethlehem's Mayor Freij and the Military Commander of Bethlehem and Police Commissioner of Judea and Samaria.
They led the procession to the Church of the Nativity which is the site of Christ's birth.
A large number of Greek Orthodox churchmen also gathered at the church. They belong to the Patriarchate of Jerusalem and are officially known as Greek Orthodox because the monks and hierarchy are Greek. The patriarch and bishops are drawn from monasteries in and near the holy places.
The climax of the celebrations for the Greek Orthodox was a midnight mass, also in the Church of the Nativity.