Observing Easter in Istanbul

Bartholomew I of Constantinople Easter

During Easter, all the churches of Istanbul – from the Ecumenical Patriarchate to those in the most remote neighbourhoods – are in service.

So if you are there and you want to experience the Holiness of this period as the people of Istanbul live it, choose such a regional church.

On Thursday the women cook lentils and dye the eggs red. The children pick up and go to church for the Crucifixion, holding a small wreath for the Crucified Jesus.

Good Friday is the culmination of the fast, while a visit to the cemeteries of the regions of Istanbul is also planned. Most maintain the custom of the seven pilgrimages, that is, they worship the Epitaph in seven different churches.

On Holy Saturday morning the Despot blesses the Laurels at the Hagia Triada Greek Orthodox Church in Taksim. A custom that is worth following, both for its uniqueness and for the magnificence with which it is performed.

Hagia Triada Greek Orthodox Church, Istanbul - Wikipedia

The Resurrection, then, is as we know it in Greece, with the only significant difference that there are no fireworks here, so it retains a very all-encompassing character and is more emotionally charged.

In several churches, in fact – such as Neochori, for example – you will meet many young Turks coming with their candle to pay respect, regularly attending the entire resurrection service.

Theotokia 2021" were succesfully completed in Neochori of Bosporus |  Orthodox Times (en)
Neochori of Bosporus.

On Easter Sunday at 10:00 in the morning, the Patriarchate holds a custom that is rather Eastern Roman.

In the official hall of the building, on the second floor, the deacons dress the Patriarch in all the gold-plated vestments appropriate for the Easter procession, while at the same time Byzantine hymns are sung.

Then everyone goes down to the temple in turn, with the Patriarch appearing last. And they sing the liturgy of the day, while they also read the Gospel in 12 different languages.

READ MORE: An Amazing Before and After of an Ancient Greek Stadium Excavation.