Christians in Turkey celebrate Christmas

Thousands of Christians in Turkey began their Christmas celebrations this week with religious ceremonies being held in different churches across the country.

Christians in Istanbul gathered at St. Anthony of Padua Church on Istiklal Avenue in the crowded Taksim neighborhood on Dec. 24.

Worshipers recited prayers in Turkish, English and Italian. The Fener Greek Orthodox patriarch in Istanbul held a Christmas ritual at the Church of St. George early in the morning.

Along with local Orthodox Christians, hundreds of Orthodox Christians from different provinces of Turkey and abroad attended the service, led by Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.

A Christmas ritual took place at the House of Virgin Mary in Seljuk town of Izmir.

Christians in the southeastern province of Hatay, bordering Syria, also celebrated Christmas at the Greek Orthodox Church in Iskenderun district.

It was also celebrated in Mardin’s Midyat district, which has a large population of Syrian Orthodox (Assyrian) people. Worshippers gathered in Mort Ismuni Church and held a religious service on Christmas Day.

The Catholic Church of Mersin in the southern province held a Masse.

Also rituals took place at the Virgin Mary Church in the eastern province of Diyarbakir.

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