First and foremost, Christians can take solace in the fact that the very date that Easter was established on was decided on at the First Council of Nicaea, which took place in A.D. 325 in Turkey's Iznik and dictated much of the creed Christianity was to follow. As a result, the holiday of Easter kicks off with Holy Week, which began last Sunday and concludes with Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Traditionally, this period marks the end of lent, a 40-day period of religious fasting. Some of the most popular ways to celebrate the holiday are by attending religious services and enjoying a lavish brunch, both of which are possible in Turkey.
Mass at the home of the Virgin Mary
The House of the Virgin Mary is quite possibly one of the most special places in the world that Easter could be celebrated. Located on Mt. Koressos in Ephesus, this shrine, which was the house where the Virgin Mary passed away, will be holding religious services throughout the weekend in honor of Easter. There will be religious services held starting Friday, April 19 at 5 p.m. followed by a mass on Saturday evening, April 20 that will start at 9 p.m. and two services held on Easter Sunday, scheduled for 10:30 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Service at Istanbul's largest Roman church
The Church of St. Anthony of Padua, referred to in Turkish as Sent Antuan, is Istanbul's largest and most popular Roman Catholic Church. Situated overlooking İstiklal Avenue, this impressive neo-Gothic basilica has become a regular stop for foreigners and locals alike to make a prayer and light a candle. However, Easter weekend offers a wonderful opportunity to actually attend a mass, and they will be offering a number of services. Their Good Friday services will be held on April 19 at 3 p.m. and at 8 p.m. in Turkish. On Saturday evening, April 20, there will be a service at 9 p.m., held in English and Turkish. Then, on Sunday, there will be three services starting at 10 a.m. in English, followed by a service at 11:30 a.m. in Italian and an evening mass at 7 p.m., which will be held in Turkish.
Brunch with Kidsnook at the Hilton
On Sunday, April 21, the Hilton's Bosphorus Terrace restaurant will be hosting a lavish buffet brunch with live music for adults and a journey into the world of Alice in Wonderland for the children. Kidsnook, which is a popular children's bookstore and storytelling space located in Akatlar, has teamed up with Hilton Istanbul in Harbiye for this special event in which children will get to listen to stories being told and magic shows followed by egg painting, one of the traditional activities for kids connected to this holiday. Brunch takes place from noon to 3 p.m., and the storytelling event will take place from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Traditional Easter brunch, egg hunt
On Sunday, April 21 the AzzuR Restaurant, located in the Mövenpick Hotel in Levent, will be hosting a traditional Easter Brunch Buffet, taking place from noon to 3 p.m. that will feature holiday decorations and all of the holiday breakfast classics as well as a chocolate fountain accompanied by live piano music and an egg hunt. There is also a chocolate-decoration course for the kids.
Easter feast, Belgian treats
Located in Tarabya, Le-Cuistot Studio has become the local haunt for the expat community in the area and beyond, and Easter is definitely one of their specialties. This is because chef-owner Carlos Le Cuistot hails from Belgium and his cafe is decked out with Belgian Easter treats, such as chocolate bunnies and eggs. On Sunday, April 21, Carlos will be hosting a special Easter brunch buffet with a French and Belgian touch that will be a special opportunity to try some of the wonderful cuisine he offers in his shop. Popular for take-away and eating in, Le Cuistot Studio always features a wide variety of pastries, quiches and breads and also serves up scrumptious gourmet meals.