- Title: MIDDLE EAST: Orthodox Christians mark Palm Sunday in Middle East.
- Date: 9th April 2012
- Summary: CLERGY PROCESSION HOLDING PALMS / WORSHIPPERS TAKING PHOTOS
- Embargoed: 24th April 2012 13:00
- Location: Jerusalem, Gaza, West bank
- Country: Palestinian Territories
- Topics: Religion
- Reuters ID: LVA3H49T4D8LQ2QDZKPLOR20KA01
- Aspect Ratio:
- Story Text: Churches in Bethlehem, Gaza and Jerusalem host Palm Sunday services for Orthodox Christians.
Hundreds of Orthodox Christians attended services in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Gaza on Palm Sunday (April 8).
Celebrations on Palm Sunday, a moveable feast held on the first Sunday before Easter, mark the start of Holy Week leading up to Easter Sunday, the most important date in the church calendar.
In the Christian calendar, Palm Sunday always falls on the first day of the Holy Week before Easter, with Orthodox Christians marking the date a week later than other denominations.
According the Christian tradition, the date commemorates the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem just before his arrest and crucifixion, when followers strewed palm branches in his path.
Israel has imposed a general closure on the West Bank during the coinciding Jewish holiday of Passover but Orthodox Christians gathered in Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity, believed to be the birthplace of Jesus, and waved palm fronds to mark Palm Sunday.
Worshippers also attended Palm Sunday ceremonies in the Orthodox church in Gaza City, one of only two churches in the Hamas-run coastal strip.
Pilgrims from around the world also joined fellow Christians living in Jerusalem for services at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the most sacred site of all for followers of the Christian faith.
Holy Week culminates on Easter Sunday, when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.
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