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Elliott, C. B.: Travels in the three great empires of Austria, Russia and Turkey. London, Richard Bentley, 1838, 2 vol.

 

 

Greek Easter in Jerusalem

 

 

1836

This, the climax of lying wonders, is reserved for the Saturday intervening between Good Friday and Easter-day; and, since the Greek are far more numerous than the Latin pilgrims, perhaps in the ratio of eight to one, the crowd is much greater at the celebration of their festivals than at the commemoration of those of their rivals; consequently, the violation of decorum and of the peace is carried to a greater extent. It is computed that eight thousand persons are congregated on these occasions within the walls of the church. The gallery of the Latin convent is the only place in which a man can feel secure; for, not to mention the probability of a fight between the opposing parties, the press of the multitude and the extravagances of the pilgrims are such, that fatal accidents almost always occur. This year we heard of only two or three; last year there were many.

It were difficult to convey an adequate idea of the excesses of the Greeks within the sacred edifice; they can be compared only to the riots of drunken men or the revels of pagans. Laughing, singing, quarrelling, roaring, jumping, and dancing succeeded each other, or were carried on all at once, in different quarters of the church.

 

The brawling revelry of an Irish fair, succeeded by a devil’s dance in a sea of fire, is the only image which conveys to the mind a just idea of the half hour that precedes and follows the descent of the miraculous flame. Thus were the sacred festivities concluded; and thus ended the holy week we passed in Jerusalem!

 

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