Some people might find it ironic, but since I’ve been to the U.S. the time that I miss Iraq the most is around Easter time. I mean Iraq is always a part of me, but around Easter time I feel homesick and I remember the good old days.
Every single year when we lived in Iraq, my family and I would travel to our village north of Mosul (I am a Baghdad born and bred girl but my roots are from the North- from a village called “Alkosh”) to celebrate Easter there with my grandparents (God rest their souls) and other family members (aunts and uncles). It was the trip that my siblings and I would eagerly wait for. In fact, just hearing the words “a trip to Alkosh” would throw us to our feet jumping up-and-down from happiness. To us Alkosh represented the escape from the big city and the complications that all big cities have to the beautiful village with its friendly people where everyone knew everyone.
Also, Easter is usually during spring time or the beginning of spring, and that is when the Northern Iraq is the most beautiful. The grass grows green and gets filled with yellow, red, and white wild flowers. For my family, it did not feel like Easter if we were not in Alkosh! Of course, we were privileged to be attending schools where Christian students were the majority, because that would mean we could leave on Wednesday since most Christian students wouldn’t go to school anyways on Holy Thursday. My mom would have all our bags packed before school was out on Wednesday, they would pick us up from school and we would directly make our way to Alkosh so that we can have as much time there as possible. The 5 hour trip there would go by so fast because of our excitement and enthusiasm. However, the same 5 hour trip back to Baghdad would seem to take forever, with us grumpy kids in the car. Going back to Baghdad meant the end of all the fun and back to school, yuck!!!
Easter celebration in Alkosh was very special. We could never make it to Palm Sunday there because of school, but I’ve heard from my dad and aunts that the whole village participates, and they walk around the entire village in a long line saying hymns starting with priests and deacons, followed by schools kids, and ending with the rest of the village men and women. Then there was Holy Thursday, followed by Good Friday when my dad would either put a tape or himself sing melancholic hymns making us all feel the passion of our Lord, and then at night we would make a trip to the church.