How Do Turkish People Celebrate Christmas?

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Christmas is celebrated on Jan. 6th in Turkey. On Christmas Eve, seven purple candles are lit together. Families go to church at sunset and then sit down to a Christmas dinner of seafood. On Christmas day, people attend Christmas mass. A religious parade starts at 10:00 in the morning in the Kumkapi district of Istanbul.

On the day after Christmas, Jan. 7th, people visit the graves of their relatives to say prayers. The Armenians in Turkey are followers of Christianity and mostly belong to the Armenian Apostolic faith. They refer to Christmas as Surp Dzinunt, which means holy birth. They spend the 50 days before Christmas in preparation, referred to as Hisnag. Church members fast on the first, fourth and seventh week of Hisnag. They consume only vegetables and seafood. Every Saturday, a purple candle is lit at sunset, followed by prayers and hymns.

Christmas was celebrated on Jan. 6th until the 4th century. The Roman church then moved the date to Dec. 25th. By then the Armenian church had separated from the Roman church, and they continued to celebrate Christmas on Jan. 6th. The Armenians are a Christian minority in Turkey. Many were killed during the Armenian genocide, and some converted to Islam to escape death.