The city of Bethlehem marked the beginning of the celebration for the Orthodox Christmas on Sunday.

Local Palestinians and international visitors flocked to the city from the early morning. Boy scouts bands from several parts of the West Bank played drums and Scottish bagpipes as they marched through the city.

In the early morning the Patriarch of the Assyrian Orthodox Church was the first religious figure to arrive in Bethlehem, he was then followed by the Patriarch of the Coptic Church.

At midday, the Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church, Theofilos III, arrived at Manger Square in Bethlehem city centre, where he was greeted by Bethlehem Governor Salah Al-Ta’mari, Mayor of Bethlehem Victor Batarseh, and the Palestinian Minister of Tourism, Khouloud Daibes, and members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) from the city.

The Greek Orthodox Church is the largest and oldest church in Palestine. Palestinian security officials informed IMEMC that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will attend the Greek Orthodox midnight mass service in the Church of the Nativity on Sunday night.

Christmas is celebrated by Orthodox Christians throughout the world on the 7th of January in the Gregorian Calendar – 13 days after other Christians.