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|Primary Language:||Assyrian Neo-Aramaic|
|Christian Adherents:||91.00 %|
|Online Audio NT:||Yes|
|People Cluster:||Assyrian / Aramaic|
|Affinity Bloc:||Arab World|
Assyrians are an ethnic group whose origins lie in what is today Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria. They are believed to descend from the ancient Akkadians, who, starting with Sargon of Akkad, emerged as the ruling class of Assyria. Babylonia (formerly Sumer and Akkad) was a colony of Assyria. Eventually Aramaean tribes assimilated into the Assyrian empire and their language became dominant, while the different cultures merged to form the ancient Assyrian culture. Today, in certain areas of the Assyrian homeland, identity within a community depends on a person's village of origin or Christian denomination, for instance Chaldean Catholic.
Most Assyrians speak a modern form of Syriac, an Eastern Aramaic language whose dialects include Chaldean and Turoyo as well as Assyrian. All are classified as Neo-Aramaic languages and are written using Syriac script, a derivative of the ancient Aramaic script. Assyrians also may speak one or more languages of their country of residence.
As a result of persecution, mostly during the 20th century, there is now a significant Assyrian diaspora. Major events included the Islamic revolution in Iran, the Simele Massacre, and the Assyrian genocide that occurred under Ottoman Turkish rule in the early 1900s. The latest event to hit the Assyrian community is the war in Iraq. Of the one million or more Iraqis reported by the United Nations to fled in the 1990s, forty percent are Assyrian, despite Assyrians comprising only three to five percent of the Iraqi population. ISIS massacred more of them in 2014. As a result, they have migrated to the Caucasus, North America and Western Europe during the past century. A very small number live in Kazakhstan.
Wherever they live the Assyrians love their Akitu celebration. It is a celebration of spring which begins with the March 21 Spring Equinox and ends on April 1, the beginning of the Assyrian new year.
There are many Assyrian customs that are common in other Middle Eastern cultures. A parent will often place an eye pendant on their baby to prevent an evil eye being cast upon it. These beliefs become weaker for those who live in Western, secularized countries like Greece and New Zealand.
Assyrian culture is dictated by religion. They adhere to the Syriac Christian tradition, a network of Eastern Orthodox. The language is also tied to the church as well for it uses the Syriac language in liturgy. Festivals occur during religious holidays such as Easter and Christmas. There are Assyrians that are not very religious, yet they may be very nationalistic. Assyrians are proud of their heritage, their Christianity, and of speaking the language of Christ. Children are often given Christian or Assyrian names such as Ashur, Sargon, Shamiram, Nineveh, Ninos, Nimrod, etc. Baptism and First Communion are heavily celebrated events similar to how a Bris and a B'nai Mitzvah are in Judaism. When an Assyrian person dies, three days after burial, people gather to celebrate that person's rising to heaven (as did Jesus). After seven days they again gather to commemorate their passing. A close family member wears only black clothes for 40 days or one year as a sign of respect.
The Assyrians need to put Jesus Christ first in their lives. Their ancient religion is an excellent way for them to come together as a people living in a foreign land. But they need to set Christ and his teachings above of all traditions.
Pray for the Assyrian church to put Christ high above all traditions and rituals.
Pray for Assyrian Christ followers to teach the ways of the savior to those whose faith is on shaky ground.
Pray for Assyrian disciples to make more disciples.