Tuesday, 12 January, 2016

Egypt Christians celebrate Christmas amid tight security

Christmas Eve service at SS Peter and Paul Macedonian Church Russian Patriarch Defends Syria Campaign
Dana Christensen | 08 January, 2016, 17:08

Metropolitan Filaret, head of one of Ukraine's Orthodox churches, conducts a service on the eve of Orthodox Christmas at the Volodymyrsky Cathedral in Kiev, Ukraine on January 6.Valentyn Ogirenko/ReutersOrthodox priests throughout Bulgaria traditionally bless the country's waters by throwing in a cross for worshippers to try to catch. Al-Sisi first attended a Christian Mass in Cairo previous year, marking the first time an Egyptian president has attended a Coptic Christmas celebration.

Russian news reports said the church was where his parents had been baptised.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was among those in attendance at the cathedral, which was destroyed under Soviet dictator Josef Stalin then reconstructed after the fall of Communist rule.

Amid a warm welcome and roaring cheers, Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi joined Pope Tawadros and Coptic Egyptians during Wednesday's Christmas mass taking place at the St. Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Abbasiya. The country's Christians have been frequently attacked by Islamists who blame them for the ousting of former President Mohamed Morsi in June 2013.

Most Copts supported el-Sissi as well as the removal of Morsi from power. Many Christian Egyptians, who make up 10 percent of the country's population, are optimistic about el-Sissi's government.

Orthodox Christmas

The appearance of Putin was a total surprise for other local Orthodox believers at the rural church, where they gathered for the service to celebrate Christmas, as there were no previous announcements of the Russian president's plans to visit the Tver Region.

Serbia's Orthodox Christians marked Christmas Eve on Wednesday by burning dried oak branches at sermons held outside churches.

This young tree symbolises Christ and his entry into the world.

Russia's main Orthodox cathedral, the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, built to commemorate the victory in the Patriotic War of 1812, is dedicated to the biblical birth of Jesus, since on this very day, December 25 of the older Julian calendar, the last soldier of the Napoleon army left Russian Federation.