The Greek community in Istanbul marked Christmas on Thursday by taking out a celebration rally on Istiklal Street during which they sang their traditional carols called "Kalanda" and distributed sweets to people.
Dozens of Greek Orthodox Christians gathered in the evening in front of the Zografeion Lyceum, a 19th-century Greek school in Beyoglu district, from where they then marched towards the Consulate General of Greece.
"Christmas is important for us because it is the birthday of Jesus," Diamandi Komvopulos, 43, told Anadolu Agency.
Anastasia Spanou, 62, also said she was excited to celebrate her Christmas in Istanbul. "We are celebrating Christmas with our families, eating turkey and singing, which is the part that I like most," Spanou said.
Kristina Mincinikof, 14, a student of Zografeion School, said: "In Christmas, I like most to be with my family because I can get a chance to see my relatives who live away from us." she said.
According to Ozcan Sabudak, deputy manager of the Zografeion Lyceum, about 2,500 Greek people live in Istanbul.
Turkey’s political leadership has also wished Christians living in the country a festive Christmas. In his message, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan described Turkey as a "region nestling different cultures and beliefs in peace and brotherhood for ages", adding that the Anatolia region is a "basin of civilisation where marginalization has found no ground".
Western Christians, who use the Gregorian calendar, celebrate the birth of Christ on Dec. 25.
Eastern orthodox churches, including Armenian and Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church, celebrate Christmas on Jan. 7 as they follow the Julian calendar, which runs 13 days behind the Gregorian one.