Wednesday, 4 May 2011

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

Two pictures of two walls, no more than a hundred metres apart.

One of an impressive but uncomfortably triumphalistic image on the walls of Jerusalem's Old City.

One of an impressive piece of what Ruskin called 'honest repair' - from a shopping mall wall. An old building was taken to pieces for reconstruction. Each brick and stone were numbered. Then, when it was put back together, the numbering was deliberately left in view. (I used the basic Photo Fix on my Sony Ericsson phone to sharpen up the colours a little.) The building was by Moshe Safdie. It's the smartest shopping mall I've ever seen.

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.

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

Then . . .

I followed the parade up the hill till we reached the last of Christ's stations — outside the old church on the hill top. There, I took a second picture. Again, it reminded me of other Good Friday parades — a time when all young women in possession of their youth and hope get dressed up in hope of attracting a man of their dreams.Things never change. I'm sure it's a mid-Spring ritual that far precedes the arrival of Christianity, whether Maronite, Catholic or Other.Notice the carefully tended long hair and the modesty rules — bare legs or arms would have been unacceptable but tight, tight jeans (and high heels) are fine. One religion's dress codes are so often another's moral outrage.
What I did on my (Easter) holidays, part one

As someone who once found themselves, unknowingly, in Bethlehem on Christmas Day, it should have been no surprise to me that I chanced across a Maronite Christian Good Friday parade in a village near the Lebanon border. I took this picture of the parade — very similar to the ones in long-ago Ireland and my memory.Then . . .