February 18, 2013

Ghassan Rafidi, 53, remembers enjoying celebrating Easter twice as a child in his Israeli village of Jifna.

"We had two times to celebrate and two vacations.

My father's family gave us gifts on the Greek Orthodox date, and my mother's family on the Catholic," said Rafidi, the son of a Catholic mother and a Greek Orthodox father.

But today the Christian community has shrunk, and it is important that the celebrations be united, he said.

Employers honour vacation on only one of the celebrations, putting pressure on families to decide which to celebrate, he said.

"The Muslims always ask us how many Jesuses do we have," he said.

Now, following a directive from the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land, within two years all Eastern Catholics and the Latin Patriarchate in the Holy Land will officially adopt the Greek Orthodox Julian calendar date.