The church of the East celebrates Easter

utmmn5yj4zcdnoozzwow1.jpgISTANBUL – Turkish Daily News
Protestant and Catholic Easter might be over and done with, but this weekend the Eastern Orthodox Church in Turkey takes its turn to commemorate the crucifixion and celebrate the resurrection of Christ with full religious pomp and circumstance from Mardin to Istanbul.

Easter in the church of the East brings to mind the midnight resurrection service on the Saturday night before Easter. A few minutes before midnight in Greek Orthodox churches, the lights go out and the priest bursts into hymnology, dating back centuries, announcing that Christ has risen from the dead. The single candle in the sanctuary becomes the source from which the faithful light their candles, one by one, until the entire church is lit by the small flames. People take the light home, trying not to let it go out in the cool spring evening air, and light the candles of their religious icons at home. Families and friends then break the 40-day fast, during which they abstain from meat and animal products, with a tripe soup similar to IÅŸkembe. On the next day, Easter Sunday, roasted lamb and wine dominates the meal. Red eggs are passed around and there is a competition to see which egg is the last standing after everyone smashes each other’s eggs.

Calculating Eastern Easter

At the First Ecumenical Synod in Nicaea in 325, in the presence of Emperor Constantine, it was decreed that the death and resurrection of Christ should be celebrated officially every year. The Nicaea Synod, however, did not determine how Easter would be determined and left it up to the Church of Alexandria to announce the date of Easter every year.

The date of this movable religious feast has created confusion since Christendom was split into the Julian Calendar, observed by Greek Orthodox Christians, and the Gregorian calendar, observed by Catholics. Although both calendars follow the cycle of the sun, in the case of the annual date for the feast of Easter, they keep the lunisolar calendar, like the Hebrew calendar, from where Easter (Pascha) claims its roots.

Thus, Easter is observed on the Sunday after the first full moon or after the day of the vernal equinox. However, the “Paschal Fool Moon” is not the astronomical full moon but the ecclesiastical full moon and the vernal equinox is fixed on March 21. So Easter is determined on the basis of special tables calculating its dates accordingly.

To get a taste of Orthodox Easter, below is a list of Greek, Bulgarian and Syriac Orthodox churches in Turkey, celebrating Easter this weekend.

Bulgarian Orthodox/Istanbul

St. Ivan Bulgar Church

Abide-i Hürriyet caddesi No. 124 Şişli

April 26, Saturday, 11:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.

Sveti Stefen Demir kilisesi

Mürsel Paşa cad. 85, on Haliç

April 27, Sunday, 1:00 p.m.

Syriac Orthodox


Meryemana Church

(Virgin Mary Church)

Tarlabası Karakurum Sok. No:20 Beyoğlu

April 26, Saturday, 5:00 p.m.

April 27, Sunday, 8:00 a.m.

Latin Katolik Kilisesi

Cümbüş Sok, Eski İtfaye Sokağa


April 26, Saturday, 5:00 p.m.

April 27, Sunday, 11:00 a.m.


Deyrulzafaran Monastery


April 26, Saturday, 7:00 p.m.

April 27, Sunday, 7:00 a.m.


Aziz Petrus ve Paulus Kilisesi

April 27, Sunday, 7:00 a.m.

(The Assyrian Orthodox communities of Yeşilköy, Bakırköy and Moda meets in hosting Catholic Churches. For more information and the locations of other Syriac Orthodox churches call the Patriarchate)

Greek Orthodox/Istanbul and the Islands: Agia Triada Greek Orthodox Church

MeÅŸelik Sokak, 11/1, Taksim April 26, Saturday, 10:00 p.m. Midnight Liturgy

Haghios Georgios, Greek Orthodox Patriarchate

Sadraza.m. Ali Paşa Caddesi, 35, Fener, Eyüp

April 26, Saturday, 10:00 p.m. Midnight Liturgy

April 27, Sunday, 9:00 a.m.

Agia Triada Greek Orthodox Church


April 26, Saturday, Saturday 10:00 p.m. Midnight Liturgy

April 27, Sunday, 5:00 p.m.

Agia Paraskevi

Büyükdere, Kurtuluş

April 26, Saturday, Saturday 10:00 p.m. Midnight Liturgy

April 27, Sunday, 5:00 p.m.

Kimiseos Theotokou

Beşiktaş Çarşı

April 26, Saturday, Saturday 10:00 p.m. Midnight Liturgy

April 27, Sunday 5:00 p.m.

Agia Triada

Halki Theological Seminary


April 27, Sunday 10:30