INTRODUCTION: Thousands of pilgrims, both Christians and Jews, flocked into the holy city of Jerusalem over the weekend to celebrate Palm Sunday and Passover.
INTRODUCTION: Thousands of pilgrims, both Christians and Jews, flocked into the holy city of Jerusalem over the weekend to celebrate Palm Sunday and Passover. This year, Palm Sunday coincided with the first day of the week-long Jewish festival celebrating their release from slavery in Egypt.
SYNOPSIS: As a result of the two feasts almost together this year, there has been an overall increase of 40 per cent in the number of visitors over last year.
Arriving by aircraft, ship and foot, there were about 30,000 pilgrims from around the globe in the city during the festivities. the Christians were commemorating the day Jesus rode in to the Holy City, while Jews celebrated the time Moses led the Israelites from egyptian bondage more than 2,000 years ago.
Many Christian pilgrims braved an unusual heat wave to march in the traditional Palm Sunday procession, which began at the Mount of Olives and continued to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Carrying palm branches and chanting hymns, tourists, nuns and priests wound their way down the biblical Mount through St. Stephens gate into???.
But it is not all pure religion. Commercially, the city benefits from the in-flow of pilgrims. The streets are packed with guided tours, artists, Bedouins selling camel rides, and hawkers trading pictures, postcards, stamps and souvenirs. Languages from across world can be heard in the narrow streets, and in the normally quiet restaurants. Business booms, with cameras constantly clicking and cash registers ringing.
Palm Sunday traditionally starts the major period of the Christian religion. It reaches a climax on Easter Sunday, which commemorates Christ's resurrection on the third day after his death.