Turkey’s Orthodox community celebrates Christmas
Turkey’s Orthodox community celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ on Jan. 6, recognized as Christmas according to the Julian calendar.
Greek Orthodox citizens in Istanbul reenacted the baptism of Christ with a traditional cross-throwing ceremony at the Kuzguncuk dock in Üsküdar district.
The celebrations began in the morning with a three-hour ceremony held in Agios Georgios Greek Orthodox Church led by Bishop Smarağ.
Later, a group of priests and faithful Orthodox Christians went to the Üsküdar dock, where Bishop Smarağ threw a large cross into the sea.
A young man named Ilias Ouanis Tawadros kissed the cross he took from the sea and presented it to the Bishop.
Many Turkish Armenians living in the İskenderun district in the southern border province of Hatay attended a Christmas mass.
Avedis Tabaşyan, a religious officer from Hatay Armenian Churches, wished 2021 to be the year of hope at the ceremony, where participation was low due to the pandemic.
Due to a difference in calendars, many Orthodox churches mark Christmas Eve on Jan. 6 and celebrate Christmas on Jan. 7 and not on Dec. 25.
Several countries, including Russia, Georgia, and Armenia, celebrate Christmas in January.
The majority of Orthodox churches worldwide use the Julian calendar, created under the reign of Julius Caesar in 45 B.C., and have not adopted the commonly used Gregorian calendar, proposed by Latin Pope Gregory of Rome in 1582.
The former calendar runs 13 days behind.