ANKARA: Churches Cause Santa Claus To Work Overtime


Dec 22 2008

ISTANBUL – The Christian world celebrates Christmas on different
dates. The cloaks, calpacs and armbands worn by clerics differ because
of doctrine and culture. They also are traces of thousands of years
of mysticism

In the world of Christianity, the cloaks, calpacs, armbands and belts
worn by priests contain traces of thousands of years of mysticism.

The Catholic Church, made an indelible impression in the middle ages
with glorious adornments, followed by a simpler style over time. Long,
white gabardines and black cloaks replaced baroque style dressing. As
the Catholic world became plainer, the Orthodox churches of Christians
living in Anatolia, the Caucasians and the Balkans drew attention with
the alacrity and dynamism of their colours and their adornments. On
Christmas Eve, the Hurriyet Daily News & Economic Review spoke with
Zakeos Ohanian, a theology expert, graduate of the Vatican Urbanian
University and an Orthodox priest, on church garments and why Christmas
was celebrated on different dates in the Christian world by different

Ohanian, chancellor of the Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople in
Kumkapı and a religious functionary from the Surp Asdvazsazsin (Holy
Virgin Mary) church, said, "As is known in history, the churches in
the Christian world divided over disagreements and different doctrines
appeared. The differences in the doctrines was the basis for Christmas
to be celebrated at different times."

Solar Holiday became Christmas Ohanian said that unlike the rest of
the world, Armenian, Syrian, Coptic (Egypt) and Abyssinian (Hindu)
churches celebrated Christmas not on Dec. 24, but on Jan. 6. Another
reason for Christmas being celebrated on different dates goes back
to the second century. "Apostles of Jesus, Saint Peter and Saint
Paul, travelled through Athens and Rome to Portugal and from there
to inner and northern parts of Europe to spread Christianity," said
Ohanian. "Northern Scandinavian countries worshipped the sun before
Christianity and the holiday was celebrated on Dec. 24. With the
acceptance of Christianity, Christmas replaced this holiday. Therefore,
Christmas happened to be celebrated on Dec. 24 in Europe."

The prototype for the cloaks is from the Torah and the Psalms As to
religious garments worn by Christian churches, Ohanyan said despite
differences in doctrine and culture, there was a common tradition
in the garments of clerics. "Starting with preachers and cassocks,
from priests and priestess with the vow of celibacy, to bishops,
all garments were long and loose. The appearance of the garments was
not considered, the purpose was to hide body shape." Ohanian said
the cloaks and calpacs’ prototypes had come from the Torah and the
Psalms. "If we put cultural reflections to the side, the truth is,
all garments worn by clerics of the churches of the world are one to
one with Jewish culture."

Cloaks processed with golden fibres

Ohanian’s area of expertise is the Armenian Church, part of the
Eastern Orthodox Church of which he is a member. Omanyan said until
the 1900s there was over 2,000 Armenian churches and more than 150
monasteries in Anatolia. "Garments of the Anatolian clerics differed
greatly according to the area they were from. The craftsmen used
to process every garment with golden fibres manually. The results
were garments that were lifelike and flamboyant." Ohanian added,
"Unfortunately, we had nothing left from the legacy of Anatolia which
we can use an example."

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