Iraq officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia encompassing the Mesopotamian alluvial plain, the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, and the eastern part of the Syrian Desert.
Christmas Celebrations in Iraq :
In 2008, the Iraqi government declared Christmas as an official holiday for the first time in the history of the nation. Christians form a small population in Iraq and they quietly celebrated this day, spending most of it in prayers and solemn religious services.
The celebrations of the festival here are quite different from the observation of it in the Western countries. In the Christian homes an unusual ceremony is held in the courtyard of the home on Christmas Eve. One of the children in the family reads the story of the Nativity from an Arabic Bible. Iraqi Christian families gather together and one of the children read about the birth of Jesus while other family members hold lighted candles. Afterward the reading, a bonfire of thorn bushes is let and everyone sings. If the thorns burn to ashes, good luck will be granted for the coming year. When the fire dies, each person jumps over the ashes three times and makes a wish.
On Christmas Day, a religious service is held in the local churches and all Christian families residing nearby come to attend it. Another bonfire is lit in the churchyard. While the fire burns the men of the congregation chant a hymn. The bishop, carrying a figure of the Baby Jesus leads the service. Afterwards he blesses one person with a touch. That person touches the person next to him or her and the touch is passed around until all present have felt the “touch of peace.”
Notable Christmas celebrations take place in large cities of Iraq like Baghdad, Mosul, Irbil, Basrah, Suleymaniye, Kirkuk, al-Najaf, Karbala, etc
We wish all readers Merry Christmas 2016 & Prosperous New Year 2017 !!!