Christmas Eve celebrated across Turkey
ISTANBUL/AYDIN/HATAY/MERSİN - Doğan News Agency
AA photoThe holy night of Christmas was celebrated across Turkey late Dec. 24, gathering people of all religions and cultures visiting from around the world.
In Istanbul, Christmas ceremonies were held at the Church of Saint George in the garden of Fener Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Fatih, as well as the Church of St. Anthony of Padua in Beyoğlu, where masses lit candles, prayed and made wishes.
The ceremony, led by Fener Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomeos, started at 9:00 p.m. in the garden, followed by mass in the church, where hymns echoed off the walls of the historical Patriarchate.
Istanbul’s Church of St. Anthony also held masses before Christmas, marking the birth of Jesus Christ, like previous years. Attendees of the two-hour-long Christmas ceremony lit candles and prayed, while taking memorable pictures inside the church and garden. Passages from the Bible were read with accompaniment of prayers and hymns.
In the Aegean province of İzmir, people flocked to the house of Virgin Mary in the Selçuk district, to celebrate Christmas Eve and watch the ceremonies. The priest called on attendees to make wishes for people next to them and hug them. A billboard full of wishes marked prayers for houses, partners, even a championship for the football teams they support.
Christmas Eve was even observed in the southeastern provinces of Turkey. The holy night was celebrated at the Church of St. Pierre, known as one of the first Catholic churches of the world, located in the province of Hatay.
Orthodox and Catholic attendees celebrated Christmas with separate ceremonies, during which they prayed for world peace.
Iskenderun’s St. Nicolas Orthodox Church also hosted a ceremony in which church officials gave presents to children. The Orthodox Church Association Head Can Teymur said they “simplified the ceremony” due to security tension in Turkey’s southeast.
In the southeastern province of Mersin, the Italian Catholic Church organized a ceremony led by Priest Francis Dondu where attendees prayed in Turkish and Italian and read passages from the Bible.
The province is also home to the Mersin Cemetery, known as the “Cemetery of Indulgence,” where Muslims and Christians are buried next to each other.