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LETTER sxix         THE HOLY COMMUNION                     311

the Cross. When the elements are to be received the
priest advances to the door of the sanctuary, and a deacon,
completely enveloped by the curtain before the entrance,
holds the paten while the priest gives the bread to the
men first, then to the women and to the little children, held
up either by father or mother. The adults receive the
cup in order from the deacon, who passes it through a hole
in a wall about six feet high, which runs parallel with the
wall of the sanctuary, but at a little distance from it. On
leaving the church after communion each person takes a
piece of ordinary bread from a tray near the door. The
priests and deacons communicate after the people when
the sanctuary veil has again been drawn. The Eucharist
is always celebrated at or before daybreak, except in the
case of certain fast days and at funerals, when it is con-
sidered a devotional act to fast till mid-day. During
parts of the communion service one deacon swings a
censer and another " clangs " a cymbal.

The JS^ourbana as celebrated in the Syrian villages
reminds me both of the great communion gatherings of
the Scottish Highlands and the Church service which,
in my childhood, ushered in the revelry of the village
wake or feast. The festivals which, as in England,
fall on the feast of the patron saint of the village
are the great gaieties of Syrian life, and even the Kurd
cannot altogether overshadow them. After the celebra-
tion of the Rowland, at dawn, when the crowds are
frequently so great that the church is filled by several
successive congregations of communicants, the day is
spent in visiting, and in every house fruit, sweetmeats,
and tea are provided for all comers, and ardk, if it be
obtainable, forms a part of the entertainment. Dances
and games are kept up all day, and at its close many
are drunk and disorderly. These are the occasions when
fighting with the Moslems is apt to take place.