St. George's Church
Chaldean Prayer Meeting

  • Christmas: In the U.S., the majority of Arab Americans celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25. However, in the Arab World, Orthodox Christians and Egyptian Coptics celebrate Christmas on January 7. Christmas is a special time for extended families to visit, have elaborate meals, observe mass at midnight and exchange gifts. Today, many Muslim Arab Americans also engage in gift exchanges at Christmas.

  • Rogations of Nineveh: Three weeks before Lent, Chaldean and Assyrian Americans (Catholics from Iraq and Syria) fast for three days from midnight to midday. This commemorates the time when God sent the Prophet Jonas to warn the people of Ninevah to repent or face the destruction of their city.

  • Lent: Occurring for 40 days before Easter, Lent is observed by abstaining from animal products. Elaboratevegetarian meals (siami) are cooked during this period. Now many Arab Americans observe Lent by giving up only one food item, such as soda or chocolate. Arab American churches hold a special mass every Wednesday evening where chanting (taraneem) comprises the main part of prayer.

  • Palm Sunday: The Sunday before Easter commemorates theentrance of Jesus Christ to Jerusalem before his death.Arab American Christians celebrate this holiday by attending special church services and entering the church carrying palm branches.

  • Easter: Honoring the day it is believed that Jesus rose from the dead, Easter is the most important Christian holiday. The two days before Easter are called Al-Juma’ Al-Hazena (Sad Friday, the Friday Jesus was crucified) and Sabt Al-Noor (Bright Saturday). Easter Sunday is called Ahad Al-Suroor (Happy Sunday). On Easter Sunday the traditional greeting is “Christ has risen.”

  • Saint Barbara’s Holiday: On December 4, many Arab Americans recall the death of a saint named Barbara. The day is observed simply by cooking a special dish called Burr-ba-ra. It is made of wheat grains, sugar, cinnamon and a variety of nuts and raisins.