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Sunday, October 23, 2016
Celebrating the 'Saturday of Light'
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 The most important day of Easter in Palestine takes place on Holy Saturday. Both the Latin, Catholic the Greek Orthodox churches call it the Saturday of Light, or Sabt el-nour in Arabic. As in every year, thousands of Christians from all over Palestine flock to Jerusalem to take part in the celebrations of "The Light," connected to the light of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. For the Latin churches, Mass begins at 7pm with the lights turned off and people carry candles into the church. The Priest enters the church carrying the light and lights all the candles. Later on, scout groups celebrate the holy light in the streets of the Old City until the midnight Mass. For the Greek Orthodox and Eastern churches, the celebrations of light start in the Holy Sepulchre. People gather around Jesus' tomb, and the Greek Orthodox Patriarch, who is fasting at the time, begins his prayers from the early morning next to the tomb until 2pm when the light appears and the bells ring. Traditionally, young men from Jerusalem compete to bring the light from the tomb to the roof of the Holy Sepulchre (a 100 steps flight) where everyone is waiting to receive the light. The popular celebration begins from the rooftop to every street in the Christian quarter of the Old City. A designated representative of the Christian community from each city and village in Palestine takes back the light to their towns (if Israeli soldiers allow them to cross) on Saturday afternoon where it is greeted by the drums and music of scout groups, both Christian and Muslim. People from as far away as Turkey and Greece are also present to send the light to their hometowns. The streets of the Old City of Jerusalem remain filled with young and old until way past midnight-hopefully this year too!
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