On the night of 24th December every year, Christians in Turkey celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ with ceremonies at many places in the country.
For instance, the Christian community in Istanbul celebrates this very special day with rituals held in churches such as Saint Antoine Church at Taksim. At the ceremonies in these churches prayers are said in Turkish Italian and English languages and chapters from the Bible are read.
Other special Christmas celebrations are held in Istanbul, as well. For instance, students from a Greek high school sing songs on Istiklal Street which is one of the main centers of the town and give out Christmas muffins to celebrate the special day. It goes without saying many families also enjoy celebrations at homes at many places in Istanbul.
On the other hand this very special time is also celebrated in an active manner in several other towns in the country.
Ceremonies are organized at the House of the Virgin Mary in the town of SELCUK, in Izmir. At the ceremony, different celebrations are made to depict the birth of Jesus such as a nun coming out of Virgin Mary’s house with a basket with Christ in it and marching to Chapel of Betania with the crowd, through candles. The Christians coming from different countries speak different languages and gather here to celebrate the birth of Jesus. They believe the candles lit here show the light of Jesus, love and peace as well. Certainly they sing songs to praise God as well.
Then again similar ceremonies are held in Mersin in the Latin Italian Catholic Church. Some Turkish citizens also attend these celebrations as guests, now and then. In this beautifully decorated church, members of the Christian community light up candles, making wishes and prayers are said, carols are sung.
Christmas celebration ceremonies are held in the Orthodox church in the Iskenderun district of Hatay. Christians, who attend the ceremonies where carols are sung, light up candles and say prayers. After the ritual, some men in Santa Claus outfits distribute gifts to the children who attend the celebrations.
In Marmaris and Fethiye open markets are organized for Christmas. At these markets which draw a lot of attention, both Turkish citizens and foreigners settled in Turkey have stands and one can buy both food and other products such as handicraft items and souvenirs etc.
At the Christmas market in Fethiye (Calış) foreign citizens and locals wearing Santa Claus costumes sell souvenirs, carpets and rugs, as well as Christmas items and give out candies to children. Many citizens both from the district and the neighboring towns such as Kaş and Bodrum, come to enjoy shopping and fun at the market. The revenues generated from sales to locals and foreigners at Çalış open air market are used for the education expenses of children in need.
On the other hand celebrations are also made in Edirne, northern Turkey. Christmas is celebrated in the Bulgarian Orthodox Sveti George Church in KIYIK district.