Christians mark Christmas in Bahrain with prayers, expressions of gratitude

Manama: Christians from several communities in Bahrain have celebrated Christmas Eve in a joyous spirit and amid expressions of gratitude for the tolerance they enjoy in the Kingdom.

Hundreds of Christians gathered at the various churches in Bahrain where they prayed for peace and serenity across the world while malls set up giant Christmas trees with hundreds of light balls, in different colors, spiraled around them.

The celebration of Christmas in Bahrain is not different from the celebrations that take place in Christian countries, Father Saba Hidossian, from the Greek Orthodox Church, said.

We celebrate here with love, affection and peace, and everyone participates with us. Christmas here has a beautiful and distinctive sentiment because we feel that we celebrate amid our families and our people and we do not feel that we are strangers, he told the local media.

The priest has been in Bahrain for the ten years.

I never felt any form of alienation, so I pray to God, on the occasion of Christmas, to preserve this country, its rulers and its kind people.

Father Fayad Charbel, from the Sacred Heart Church, a Roman Catholic parish in Manama, said the church celebrated Christmas in Manama and in several areas in the Kingdom.

In this beautiful country, we have learned that there is no difference between religions and our celebration of Christmas always witnesses the participation of all denominations in the Kingdom. Therefore, here you see in the heart of the Church various groups of Bahrainis, Christians and different communities; indeed, this is a beautiful and wonderful country, he said.

Therefore, on this glorious day, we pray to God to protect this beloved country and that peace prevail across the world.

Jennifer, a Lebanese expatriate who has been living for years in Bahrain said that she never felt out of place in the Kingdom.

I have been here for a very long time. I feel that it is my first country, a country that respects me and respects my religious rituals with great pleasure, she said.

On the occasion of the glorious feasts, the family meets with friends and loved ones, and Santa Claus distributes toys and gifts to the children so that their hearts can rejoice. In the evening, we go to the church for Mass and prayers.

Another Lebanese, Leema Haddad, said that she was grateful to God for the blessing of freedom that we enjoy in this country, as we perform all our celebrations in absolute freedom.

On this glorious occasion, there was a remarkable participation by our Muslim brethren in the Mass. This is what distinguishes Bahrain and its people, she said.

Most Christian families arrived in Bahrain late in the 19th century and were followed in the 1940s by more Arab Christian, mostly from Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Palestine and Jordan, who came to work as teachers, doctors and businessmen.

According to the Christian community, Bahraini Christians constitute around 1% of the total population, but the number of Christians from other nationalities, living and working in Bahrain, is over 100,000.

The first Christian church was built in 1905 by American missionaries soon after their arrival.

Under the reforms launched by His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, the right to religious freedom is guaranteed by law and is enshrined in the Kingdom of Bahrain’s Constitution.

Source: Bahrain News Agency