- Title: WEST BANK: Armenian Patriarch arrives in Bethlehem to head Christmas festivities
- Date: 20th January 2010
- Summary: VARIOUS OF CHURCH BELL TOWER IN FOG ARMENIAN CLERGYMEN OUTSIDE CHURCH
- Embargoed: 4th February 2010 12:00
- Topics: Religion
- Reuters ID: LVANVR06F971117M7DVP1QQZHU7
- Story Text: Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem Torkom Manoogian arrives in the West Bank town of Bethlehem to head Christmas midnight mass.
The Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem Torkom Manoogian arrived in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on Monday (January 18) ahead of the community's Christmas celebrations which to begin at midnight and proceed into January 19th.
Despite stormy weather, worshippers and a marching band awaited the Patriarch's arrival in Manger square, just in front of the Church of Nativity which is believed to be the birth place of Jesus Christ.
Armenians world-wide celebrate Christmas on January 6th, but in Jerusalem and in the West Bank a more ancient calendar is followed.
Holiday season in Bethlehem was more vibrant than ever, as tourists returned to the West Bank town after a collapse of the industry during the uprising which erupted in 2000. In the 2009 holiday season, hotels in Bethlehem reported a 70 percent rise in business.
Still, many locals say development is hindered by elaborate security arrangements Israel has put in place to keep Palestinian attackers out, including an eight metre (25 foot) high wall between Bethlehem and neighbouring Jerusalem.
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