In pictures: Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas in the time of Covid
This year, Orthodox Christians marked Christmas in drastically changed circumstances, amidst fears of the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
The holiday is typically celebrated on 7 January every year, as many Orthodox Christians follow the Julian calendar, which is 13 days apart from the more widespread Gregorian one.
In Egypt, where the majority of followers of the Coptic branch of Christianity live, priests carried out Christmas Eve mass in church wearing protective face masks. (Roger Anis/AFP)
Attendance in churches was sparser than previous years, as many chose to observe the religious occasion at home. Social distancing measures were also put in place in churches, ensuring that worshippers were sat apart and wearing protective face coverings.
Despite fears of the pandemic, streets were still decorated with nativity scenes, and Christmas decorations, balloons and toys were being sold by street vendors. (Roger Anis/AFP)
In Lebanon, members of the Armenian Orthodox choir wore protective facemasks while singing for Christmas mass. The Lebanese government has recently announced tightened restrictions and a renewed lockdown as coronaviruses cases surged in recent weeks. (Anwar Amro/AFP)
In Sudan, Ethiopian refugees fleeing the Tigray conflict attended midnight mass outside the church in an open space.
Worshippers gathered, singing, praying and cooking together next to Um Raquba refugee camp in Gadaref, eastern Sudan.
The conflict between the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, who control the Tigray region, and the Ethiopian National Defence Force, has caused an influx of refugees to seek refuge in Sudan. (Ashraf Shazly/AFP)
In order to stay safe and comply with government advice, many families in Egypt marked Orthodox Christmas in a more subdued fashion, choosing instead to observe Mass at home by watching the TV broadcast of the prayers. (Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters)
Typically, Orthodox Christmas is a time to celebrate with friends and family, eating animals from which you have abstained for a month as a show of devotion and self-control.
Many also visit each other and exchange gifts, a tradition hampered this year because of government restrictions to avoid unnecessary gatherings.
But pandemic restrictions have forced families to spend the occasion at home or with immediate family only. Here, Meray and Maybel Peter pray at home, while tuning in to Egypt’s Coptic Christmas Eve Mass on television. (Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters)
In the Kasr El-Dobara church in Cairo, signs were placed around to remind people to avoid shaking hands with fellow worshippers and to wear masks. (Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters)
A Copt woman attends Christmas midnight mass in Khartoum's Martyr's Church in Sudan. (Ebrahim Hamid/AFP)
In the occupied West Bank town of Bethlehem, Orthodox clergymen arrived at the Church of Nativity wearing masks. Palestinian scouts also marched in front of the church to mark the Orthodox Christian celebration, playing bagpipes. (Hazem Bader/AFP)