A spark of life from the ever-dwindling Greek community of Turkey was experienced on the busy streets of Istanbul as students from the Zografeion paraded up the city’s busiest shopping street proclaiming the coming of St Basil and the birth of Christ.
The singing of the kalanda is a tradition of the Greeks throughout the world and songs are filled with the meaning of the holy days of the Christmas holiday season.
Traditionally, children go door to door singing the kalends and are offered snacks or other gifts by people in the houses they visit.
The custom is similar to Muslim celebrations in Turkey where children go door to door to deliver Eid greetings, in exchange for candy.
Greek students from the Zografion Greek School, accompanied by community members donning red Santa caps, played instruments and sang Christmas carols on İstiklal Avenue on Christmas Eve.
The singers and musicians also delivered Christmas gifts to onlookers and ended in front of the Greek Consulate, where greetings were exchanged with the Consul General and staff.
The celebration was a sign of life from a dwindling community of Greek Orthodox Christians whose numbers believe to be less than 1,500 in the city— a result f years of discriminatory policies of the Turkish government against Greeks, Armenians, Jews and other non-Turks.
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