Orthodox Christmas Eve marked in Istanbul
AA photoThe Fener Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Istanbul has celebrated the birth and baptism of Jesus Christ with a special mass held on Jan. 6.
The celebrations began with a mass held in the Hagia Yorgi Church, adjacent to the patriarchate’s garden, led by Patriarch Bartholomew.
Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Ioannis Amanatidi, Greek Ambassador to Turkey Kiriakos Lukakis and Greek consul-general in Istanbul Evangelos Sekeris were also present at the four-hour ceremony.
The mass was then followed by a traditional cross-throwing ceremony at the Fener dock on the Golden Horn, during which the patriarch threw a large cross into the sea to be retrieved by a group of swimmers.
This year’s ceremony witnessed tight security measures both inside and outside the patriarchate.
Police units conducted searches on mass-comers and their belongings.
Maritime police also took precautions on the Golden Horn during the cross-throwing ceremony as attendants on the dock were only allowed to get to through police checkpoints.
Another ceremony was held in Istanbul’s Çengelköy on the Anatolian side of the city.
Due to a difference in calendars, Jan. 6 marks Christmas Eve for many Orthodox churches and Christmas is celebrated on Jan. 7 rather than Dec. 25.
The majority of Orthodox churches worldwide use the Julian calendar, created under the reign of Julius Caesar in 45 BC, and have not adopted the Gregorian calendar, proposed by Latin Pope Gregory of Rome in 1582. The former calendar runs 13 days behind the latter.