Christian Arab Congregation In Antakya, Turkey By Edge of Humanity Magazine, February 7, 2017
A work for Edge of Humanity Magazine
Antakya (ancient Antioch) is regarded as the second most important center of the Christian world after Jerusalem and holds an important place in the Christian tradition. The Christian Arab community living in the center of Antakya is estimated to have 1200 members today. All citizens of the Turkish Republic, most members of the community conduct their worship and rituals at the church in Arabic. They also read the Bible in Arabic. After a fifty-day Lent, during which Christians fast or give up certain luxuries, the community festively celebrates Easter. On the last week of Lent, a different ritual is enacted at the Church every day. The entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, the Messiah's arrest, prosecution, and crucifixion are among these. In addition, we find some of the traces of the local culture in these events. The most important one of these is the scattering of laurel leaves (the daphne or bay tree, which is an important plant in the region and has a mythological tale) on the community on Holy Saturday. With this ritual, the bay tree and its leaves are blessed.