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Syriacs

 Untitled Document There are several hypotheses, which strive to identify the roots of Syriacs. The most valid one is that the communities preferred Christianity. Since choosing Christianity, they have not had their own state and hence formed a close bond with the Church. Syriacs are sometimes referred to as “Arami”s and “Asuri”s. Aramili was a commercial language spoken in Mesopotamia between BC 1500 and AD 400. It is believed that the Messiah Christ had used this language. The Syriacs, who lived in upper Mesopotamia, represent the fundamental culture of this area. They exist today because of their reliance on divine power and not profane power. Ten and fifty days of fasting were customary before the Doğuş (Birth) and Diriliş (Resurrection) Festivals respectively and until 1960s almost everyone fasted. With the migration movements in the 1960's, unfortunately many traditions were left behind.

The Syriacs had great respect for important holy days. The two big festivals Doğuş Bayramı (Birth) and Diriliş Bayramı (Resurrection) have been preserved up to date without any changes in their simplicity and origin. Before migrating, an event that left many traditions abandoned, Syriacs celebrated all the Bayrams.

Antakya Kilisesi (Antakya Church), the first church of loyal Syriacs, was established by St. Petrus in 37 A.D. and it is also the first hierarchic Church. It is the only 1st century church still standing. The Syriacs, with no political power or support, suffered deeply from injustices and oppression, and tended to be loyal to their Churches. Another important factor of this loyalty is that the Syriac Church had almost a Messiah life due to several injustices and oppression exposed. However without given any concession from Christianity Principles it has reached to day as the only 1st century church.

The family life of the Syriacs continues today in almost the same way as it was described in the Bible. The man is the head of the household. They respect the old and love the young. Old members of the family are not left alone and are taken in to live with their family. Divorce was almost unheard of in this community loyal to traditions. Negative actions such as anarchy, terror, theft, murder, adultery etc. were almost non-existent. Unfortunately, this is not the case today.

As a result of the efforts of missionaries sent to Mesopotamia by the Catholic Church during the the 17th and 18th centuries around 15% of Syriacs are now Catholic. Although there was great rivalry between Syriac Orthodox and Syriac Catholics this competition has almost dissolved. Marriages between the two communities are now accepted as normal.

Turkish Syriacs inhabited Mardin and Midyat (South-east Anatolia) though due to the recent migrations most of them now live in Istanbul. The Syriac Orthodox have Meryem Ana Kilisesi (Virgin Mary Church) at Tarlabaşı, however since it is not large enough, the Catholic Church has given the Syriacs permission to use their churches at Moda, Bakırköy, Yeşilköy and Kumkapı. The Sacre Coeur church in Ayazpaşa is the center for Syriac Catholics. Today there are still active monasteries and churches in Mardin Deyr Ül Zaferan and Deyr Ül Umur (Mor Gabriel).

The cuisine of Syriacs dates far back in history. Very delicious old-fashioned food made of lamb meat continues to be a favorite today. Kaburga (ribs), Dobo, Çiğköfte (raw meat ball), Şamböreği, İçliköfte, Rus, Meftume, Şehriyeli Bulgur Pilavı (Pilaf with noodle), Kitel and Kibe are the most famous recipes. Kavurma (roasted meat) and meat prepared for winter are particularly delicious. Ceviz Sucuğu (Walnut faggot), Ceviz Kompostosu (walnut compote), and Ceviz Helvası (walnut sweet) are the traditional desserts. You should taste tandır (oven in earth) bread -it is incredible. Peksimet (hard biscuit) is a practical ready-to-eat bread. Mardin çöreği (bun) has a taste incomparable to any cake.

Red boiled eggs add a different color to the festival on Diriliş Bayraım. During the long snowy winters of the past the food stored in the house was sufficient for the family even if they didn't go out all winter.

Syriac music is very impressive and has been the source of inspiration for many cultures.

Their architecture has a restful plainness and stunning carving art. The visitors of Mardin admired this architectural treasure. Mardin, Venice and Jerusalem have been declared as antique cities by The United Nations and are under protection by their respective countries.

The community mostly earned their living by working as tradesman and as farmers. The majority were tailors, jewelers and assistant architects. However after the mass migration most of the youngsters attended universities and since then have had various professions.

Of course the advantages and importance in developing freedom movements cannot be ignored however degeneration slipped with those movements and effected negatively the Syriac community. Therefore, at this period of the world when everything is ruined,. A new page will be opened on World Peace, Celestial Orders descend to the world's community mosaic and that Syriacs have their place they deserve at this mosaic.

The Great Friday (Good Friday) is a fast that begins just before Easter and lasts for 24 hours. After the fast, lentils with vinegar are served, in rememberance of when Christ requested water and they gave him vinegar instead.

Funeral: After the burial ceremony, condolences are offered and cookies with coconut are served. If the family wishes they may organize a luncheon at the church. At one time, these luncheons were a very elaborate affair and were arranged at the home of the deceased. Church ceremonies used to be held on the 15th and 40th day after the funeral, however today only one Sunday ceremony is organized and Mardin Çöreği, Arma Pastanesi, and Kurtuluş are served.

Baptism: Baptismal ceremonies are held as soon as possible after the birth. The baby is plunged into sacred water. The closest male relative carries the boy while the closest female relative carries the girl. A small celebration after the baptism is sometimes arranged.

Engagement: During the engagement ceremony a priest holds a Mardin Çöreği at the middle bottom. The male relatives of the bride and the groom break off the bread at each end. This tradition is dedicated to Jesus' reappearance to two villagers after his resurrection.

Marriage: Marriage ceremonies once continued for days but now, due to economic reasons, are simpler affairs. In the past, the groom's beard was shaved in a ceremony. Today however, this is not the custom; however “henna nights” at the bride's house is still practiced. A wedding ceremony takes place at the church after the civil marriage. The bride and the groom are supposed to go to the Virgin Mary church two days before the wedding. Crowns are put on the heads of the bride and groom, hymns are chanted and later a banquet is arranged.




Armenians
Jews
Holy Days
Mourning Rituals
Syriacs
Turkish Coffee
Kirkpinar Oil-Wrestling
Traditions & Habits
Religious Colors
Islam in Turkey
Istanbul's Holy Places
Ankara's Holy Places
Famous Personalities
Legendary bazaars
Turkish Cuisine
Special Tastes
Hubble-bubble (Nargile)
Rakı and Meyhane
Hamam - Turkish Bath
Luck Games
A Little Turkish Fun

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Syriacs

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