With the upcoming lockdown in Israel due to the coronavirus crisis in the country, limited worship services have been given permission to celebrate Christmas. On all three dates of the holiday, the assigned places of worship have been given the go-ahead to accept visitors.
The ministerial committee of the Knesset decided that a third lockdown was imminent as a larger number of people continue to test positive every day. Thus, late on Wednesday night, the announcement was made to impose a countrywide closure starting from the 27th of December at 5 pm. The country will remain under lockdown for at least two weeks and will possibly be extended if the number of cases reported on a daily basis stays above 1,000.
The third lockdown is being imposed to fight the alarming rise in infection rates, however, many Christians from Israel are disheartened by the fact that they will not be able to celebrate the most awaited holiday season of the year.
On the one hand, a majority of Americans celebrate Christmas only on the 25th of December. But, Christians residing or belonging to Israel celebrate the festival on the 25th of December, as well as 7th and 19th of January. This is because of various calendars and traditions followed by different streams of Christianity living in the country. For some, the lockdown will not make much of a difference, as it will be imposed after December 25th.
The government has permitted services to allow no more than 100 participants in open areas. Spaces with no ventilation, on the other hand, have not been specified a number. Rather, the allowance of visitors will depend on the number of entryways. Each entryway will allow only 10 people to pass. Enclosed places of worship have strictly been instructed to not let more than 10 people in through each entryway.
Moreover, the government also announced an exemption for those celebrating Christmas on other dates. But, they will have some time constraints. On the 6th of January, the Christians will be free to visit places of worship from 5 pm till 8 pm on the 7th of January. Exemptions will be made from 5 pm on the 18th of January, till 8pm on January 19th.
The celebrations of the Roman Catholic holiday will begin on the 25th of December, as soon as the clock strikes twelve. Meanwhile, the Greek Orthodox will celebrate Christmas on the 7th of January next year, while under lockdown. The Armenian celebration may also take place under the third lockdown if it is extended after the specified two weeks.
The Roman Catholic Church, as well as Armenians living outside of Israel lean towards the Gregorian calendar. On the other hand, the Greek Orthodox Church and the Armenian Church in Jerusalem follow the Julian calendar.
Both Roman Catholics and Greek Orthodox Church celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December. However, the latter celebrate it according to the Julian calendar, which is 13 days behind the Gregorian calendar.