This year The Lay Centre has two students from Iraq, and one of them, Sana Roffo, told us about their Culture and how they spend the Christmas holidays.
In Iraq, Christians usually start the preparation for Christmas in the first week of December. Most of the families decorate their houses and start praying a special Christmas prayer from the first week of December till the 24th. One week before Christmas, every family starts to make the Kolecha, which is our famous and traditional pastry for Christmas: literally we cannot imagine Christmas without it. Every family shares their Kolecha with others especially the families that were unable to make it for some reason.
On the 24th, we fast and prepare ourselves to go to the evening Mass. Usually, most of families prefer to go to this Mass because it is such a special, beautiful and packed celebration. After the Mass, people gather in the church garden and extend Christmas greetings to each other and celebrate the birth of the Christ. After that, the families sit together and start eating and drinking special food and drinks. On the 25th in the morning, many families also go to Church for the morning Mass, then we have our main Christmas lunch which is very important where all the family members (uncles, aunts, cousins) join and share our traditional food named PACHA which is so heavy but still the favorite dish for most of the Iraqis. However, we also have other delicious plates such as dolma and biryani. The 26th is also important for us because in our tradition, it is Solemnity of Our Lady, Mother of God.
In my hometown, we also have a Christmas festival that starts from 25th till the 1st of January. In this festival, you can find Christmas markets and delicious foods and a lot of games and activities. Mostly this week is very important for us where we enjoy visiting our relatives and friends, most especially those who are sick.
‘Edet dyalda dmaran brikha alaykun / May the birth of the Lord be a blessing for all!