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A picture of Easter from Athanasios’s flat in Afrika Han in Beyoğlu

I remember it as a very beautiful picture in my head, like a dream…’ That’s how Athanasios started to describe his memory of a night service to celebrate  in the 1960s. On one of these nights, when Athanasios was a child, he was taken ill. He was lying down and watching the service in the yard of Agia Triada Church from his bedroom window in his  home. There was a crowd of people holding candles. The idea was that all of the lights would be turned off, and, in the darkness, a priest would light a candle. The person next to the priest would light her or his candle before passing it on. The light symbolises knowledge. Athanasios watched how the light was passed from one person to the next, and how the light grew in the dark in people’s hands. They were also singing a hymn – Christos Anesti (Christ resurrected). He said some people might not know all the hymns, but everyone would know this one, as it is so popular. The idea was that the congregation would take their candles and walk to their homes and light an oil lamp there. However, due to a dramatic decline in the population of the community and security issues, the congregation doesn’t leave the church anymore. Even during Athanasios’s years, it wasn’t always easy. Some people in the street blew the candles out to disrupt the ritual.

Agia Triada Church, Beyoğlu