An Iraqi journalist in Luxembourg

How we celebrate Easter in Iraq

Churches in Iraq are not like churches in Luxembourg, however. Most of them are surrounded by concrete walls to stop armed attacks
Photo: AFP

By Hind Al Harby

Christians celebrate Easter in Iraq as they have done ever year, in spite of the 2003 war.

While there may be no peace and the security situation deteriorates, hundreds of thousands of Christians continue flock to church to mark the resurrection of Christ.

Churches in Iraq are not like churches in Luxembourg, however. Most of them are surrounded by concrete walls to stop armed attacks.

These security measures intensified dramatically in the summer of 2014 when ISIS forces swept into Nineveh province in Iraq and captured the second largest city, Mosul.

This city was home to a thriving Christian community for 2,000 years but thousands were forced to flee from the terrorists. Yet elsewhere in Iraq the traditions continue, and are often even celebrated with Muslims.

In the week leading up to the Easter weekend, Muslims and Christians prepare desserts for the feast of "Alklejeh".

They go to the church on the Thursday to commemorate the last supper, where Christ sat down to eat with his 12 disciples.

On the Sunday before, Palm Sunday, olive branches are distributed and farmers often plant them on their land, as a prayer for a good harvest. Women also dye eggs in shades of red and yellow as a sign of joy and love.

Klaichah is one of Iraq's most famous date cookies
Photo: AFP

The eggs are dyed using traditional materials, for example onion skin and lentils. Also on Sunday, people eat a special kind of bread called "Tkharca Daochgan", made from bulgur and wheat flour and coloured yellow.

During the morning, people distribute the bread to the poor. After church, they return for a meat dish called "pacha".

These are some of the traditions of Christians in Iraq and though not all Iraqi refugees share the same religion, we share a sense of love and tolerance.

Regardless of religion, Christians and Muslims are friends and family.

Easter teaches us the meaning of friendship and with that in mind, we thank the people of Luxembourg for their kindness and wish you all a Happy Easter.

Hind is one of two asylum seekers writing for a bi-monthly column on Wort.lu/en. Before coming to Luxembourg, she was a TV journalist and programme producer in Baghdad, Iraq. She fled Iraq in 2013 after receiving death threats because of her work. Click here to read more articles from this series.

Get the latest news by signing up to our newsletter, following us on Facebook or Twitter.