Thursday, May 16, 2013

Pascha Under Turkish Domination (2 of 6)


There often prevailed among Christians and Turks, for about the first two centuries of slavery, a good climate during Pascha and Christmas, and there was an exchange of gifts. The Sultan "kissed the Patriarch, and was kissed by him". The Patriarch even served a rich table to the representatives of the Sultan on these great feasts.

Kaisarios Dapontes [1713-1784] refers in his chronicles to the Pascha of the Greeks of Constantinople during the years of slavery, especially for the period until 1682. In his chronicles, he describes the festivities as follows:

On Great Saturday the Patriarch sent the chancellor to Pasha Kapisi, to the Vizier-Kehagia, with two thousand red eggs and would seek his permission [for the three-day celebration].

On the holy and great Sunday of Pascha, when the Divine and Patriarchal Liturgy had concluded, the Patriarch with all the hierarchs and the Holy Synod went up to drink their coffee, and those Christians who attended the Liturgy kissed the hand of the Patriarch and each received from his hand two red eggs. They then went into the courtyard where they began to dance around at the Patriarchate as much as they liked, and they danced out into the streets, without the women. Then the guards came and venerated him, granted many years to the Patriarch, receiving in return from the Patriarch eggs after kissing his hand, then they immediately joined in the dancing; they danced leaving and dancing they went. This continued for three days, and a crowd of Turks and other races crowded about watching the festivities, having come from Galata and elsewhere. It's been said that occasionally the Grand Vizier and even the Sultan would come secretly to enjoy the festivities.

In this manner other peoples in the city would join the Romaioi [Greeks] in a common joy and celebration for three days.

At one time, before 1682, writes Daponte, during the great feast of Pascha, there was found in the City a monk named Agapios. He, seeing the manner in which the slaves celebrated Pascha, that is, with dancing and songs, was saddened and disappointed, thinking that in this way Christians lost the meaning of the feast.

Then another clergyman not only reassured Agapios but excited him, saying that those who danced and sang were ready to run and be martyred for Christ if the Sultan decreed for them to deny Him. Agapios, hearing these words, became so excited that he ran and joined the dance of these faithful slaves, but those fathers who were near him troubled him.

To be continued...

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos

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