Wednesday, 4 May 2011

What I did on my (Easter) holidays, part three

On Saturday night, I was invited to what I was told (by a non-Christian) was an Ethiopian music event. I found myself on the roof of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, deep in Jerusalem's Old City, right in the middle of the Ethiopian Holy Fire ceremony.

Every Christian lot has a bit of the Holy Sepulchre. Catholics, Copts, Orthodox, Armenians etc etc: they've all got their little bit of the place to themselves. (There's no Lutherans or Wee Frees of Scotland, of course. It's a Protestant-free gaff.) The Ethiopians got the roof. There were thousands of them crushed in there, parading and dancing. All dressed in white robes, all holding candles. The last time I was in a crowd that packed was at the old Boothen End at Stoke City. They were far, far, far calmer. Far less boozed up, too. And way less smelly.

I have never been anywhere which felt so like I was in instant danger of being trampled to death. But nothing happened. As one of the Ethiopian Christians said: 'This happens all round the world every Easter. And no-one has ever been injured.' It's enough to turn you into a believer. Not that there's any chance of that with me. Thank God.

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