Christmas was celebrated on the night of December 24 with rites held in the churches in İskenderun, Antioch.
The first ritual in the city was held in Iskenderun St. Nicholas Orthodox Church. The ceremony was led by the parish priest, Rev. Dimitri Yildirim. All Christians living in Iskenderun and their neighbors participated in the mass and shared the joy of the feast.
İskenderun District Governor İskender Yönden, İskenderun Mayor Fatih Tosyalı, Mayor of Arsuz Asaf Güven, CHP Municipal Assembly Members and CHP Deputy Candidate Dr. Riyat Kırmızıoğlu also participated in the ceremony.
Rev. Yildirim prayed for peace, unity and solidarity in Turkey and in the world and he wished Christmas to be instrument of peace. While messages of unity and solidarity were given, martyrs were also remembered in prayers.
Father Yildirim in his sermon said: “We commemorate our martyrs with mercy and respect. We always stand by our state and our nation. May Christmas Day bring peace, prosperity, brotherhood and happiness to the whole world and especially to Turkey, our state.”
At the end of the ceremony, all the congregation members congratulated each other and enjoyed the enthusiasm of Christmas. After the ceremony, Iskenderun Orthodox Community President Can Teymur and members of the protocol cut the Christmas cake with the children.
Speaking before cutting the cake, Teymur said: “Today, this beautiful holiday of Christmas makes us feel the warm interest of our state and nation. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to our Governor Mr. İskender Yön and his wife, to our Mayor Fatih Tosyalı, to our Mayor of Arsuz Asaf Güven, and to all our guests who participated, on behalf of our entire community. And I wish that our Almighty Lord will grant our supreme nation, supreme state, all kinds of beauties in the new year.
I wish that the year 2020 will be an occasion for good to our country and the whole world. I would like to express my gratitude to our governor and mayor on behalf of our parish priest Dimitri Yıldırım.” (SAT-7 Türk / İlyas Edip TERBİYELİ-İskenderun)