Chicago Tribune -- April 15, 1901Kiss Away Their Past Sins. Unique Feature of the Easter Celebration by the Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity.
P. 20 Greeks from stores and fruit stands, Russians from the sweat shops and factories, swarthy Syrians and even Arabians crowded the Greek Orthodox Church of Holy Trinity, 34 Johnson Street, yesterday to observe the Easter services of their church. Six thousand turned out in holiday attire and spent the day, from midnight until midnight, in feasting, festivities and worship. Bananas, sweat shops and peddling were forgotten, for it was the one great religious celebration of the year.
During the last week services similar to those of the Roman Catholic Church during holy week were observed, but they culminated at midnight on Saturday, when the mass which ushers in Easter was celebrated. Promptly at midnight Dorotheos Vacaliaros, the archimandrite, or priest, of the Holy Trinity Church, arrayed in all the glory of a Jewish Levite, appeared at the vestry entrance of the church. Large chandeliers, each carrying hundreds of pure honeycomb wax tapers, were lighted, and lamps, with pure olive oil from Palestine, added to the brilliancy of the scene. Into this burst of light the priest stepped, with 2with bowed head, and as he passed under a picture of the Virgin Mother he tipped a banner, depicting the resurrection, which he carried.
He was followed by two assistants, who carried Greek and American flags, for the Greeks worship for both nations. They passed around the church, through long aisles made in the dense crowd that filled the auditorium, which never has known a seat. When they had passed around they then entered the altar space between two chairs of twenty-four voices, which intoned a portion of the liturgy. When the priest had reached thd altar he took from it a large pure wax candle, lit it from one of the lamps and then intoned: -
"Come and take your light from everlasting light, and worship Christ arising from the dead."
Stepping to the chairs, he then lit the candle of the man nearest the altar, who passed his light to the one next, and thus around the church, for all who worshipped bore candles, which they obtained at the door as they entered. The church, already bright with thousands of flames, became a mass of lights, and the worshippers chanted:-3
"Christ is rising from the dead and stepping over the dead and giving the ones in the grave everlasting hope."
This intonation was the signal for the setting of fireworks in the streets surrounding the church. Skyrockets, Roman candles and firecrackers were used as symbols of glory for all believers of the Orthodox religion. Inside the church, the service continued with the liturgy and the sprinkling of holy water on the congregation and the reading of the resurrection, in the Greek, Russian, Syrian and Arabic languages.
When this was done, and the priest had so commanded all true believers in the orthodox faith, he turned to those near him and kissed them, thus signifying that all past sins were forgiven and forgotten. It was the closing feature of the strange service and was participated in by the people with all the enthusiasm of the southern races.
The exercises were over at 1:30 A:M and until 2 P:M the bands of worshippers made merry in their homes, where whole lambs and sheep were broiled and elaborate feasts spread. At 2 P:M the same service was performed and again the church was crowded, contributions were taken at the doors, for which candles were given out.4
At the midnight service $900 was taken and in the afternoon $700.
The services were observed yesterday because the Greeks use the Julian calendar under which yesterday was April. Their Easter falls between March 21 and April 18, being the first Sunday when there is a full moon. Should the day fall on the Hebrew Easter the Greeks postpone it until the following week.
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