A rare ‘White Christmas’ was celebrated Tuesday evening by Orthodox Christians in Bethlehem. The snow did not hinder the festivities, which were carried out as planned.Under the Eastern Orthodox calendar, Christmas is celebrated on December 7th, with Christmas eve services taking place on December 6th. As RT reports, January 7 is Christmas Day for Russian Christians, the Jerusalem Orthodox Church, the Serbian Orthodox Church, the Georgian Orthodox Church, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, as well as for some Protestants who use the Julian calendar. According to the Julian calendar, created under the reign of Julius Caesar in 45 BC, the holidays come thirteen days after the Christmas festivities in the Catholic Church.

In Bethlehem Tuesday evening, patriarchs of the Eastern Orthodox church gathered at the Church of the Nativity, where Christians believe that Jesus was born, and thousands of pilgrims flocked to Manger Square to commemorate the occasion.

The festivities began with parades by scout troop bands, which marched in Bethlehem followed by worshipers and pilgrims.

The Israeli authorities increased their patrols in the Bethlehem area, and tightened the access through the checkpoint they maintain between Bethlehem and Jerusalem.

Gazan Christians were, for the most part, denied permits to go to Bethlehem to celebrate Christmas.