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Christmas ceremony was held at the Saint Antoine Church in Beyoğlu district of İstanbul yesterday (December 24). Along with Catholics, people from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds attended the ceremony.
Julian Pista, the high priest of the church, told bianet before the ceremony that they wish "peace and love."
Father Julian said that they welcome the high attendance to the ceremony and their doors are always open for everyone:
"Saint Antoine, not only on December 24 and 25, but always welcomes Jews, Muslims, Georgians, Circassians and people from every background. Many people view here just as a museum, there are also some people who disrespect but, what should we do, we show tolerance."
The ceremony at the Saint Antoine Church began at 8 p.m. with gospels. The Catholics lighted candles and prayed upon gospels telling about Jesus and Mary. At 9.pm., rituals on the birth of Jesus began.
What do people do at Christmas?
Modern-day Christmas celebrations begin months before. The period in which the Christians wait for the birth of Jesus is called the "Advent" and advent calendars with 24 windows are prepared. In this calendar, pictures or candies are hid behind the windows. One window is opened every day. In some countries advent candles are burnt.
Choruses formed by children and adults perform gospels at churches and on streets. People do Christmas parties on the weekend before the Christmas.
Christmas trees and decorative lights are set up at homes, gardens and on streets. People give presents and cards to each other. On the Christmas Eve, the arrival of Santa Claus is animated.
In many countries, on the afternoon on December 25, Christmas meal is prepared and family members gather on table. Although the meal changes from country to country, the most common are turkey and sausage. In some countries, the Christmas pudding is ignited with brandy.
Children send their wish lists with letters to Santa Claus long before Christmas. At the night of the Christmas Eve, food are left in homes for Santa Claus and his reindeers.
On the Christmas day, people take the presents under the Christmas tree. Candies and presents are put into huge socks for children. The are told the Santa Claus brought those presents.