Christmas in Armenia

Why are Armenians the only Christians in the world to celebrate Christmas on tbe 6th of January and not on the 25th of December?
The reason is not in the difference between the old and the new calendar. Historically, all Christian churches celebrated Christ’s birth on January 6th until the 4th century.

According to Roman Catholic sources, the date was changed from January 6th to December 25th in order to override a pagan feast dedicated to the birth of the Sun which was celebrated on December 25th. At the time Christians used to continue their observance of these pagan festivities. In order to undermine and subdue this pagan practice, the church hierarchy designated December 25th as the official date of Christmas and January 6th as the feast of Epiphany. However, Armenia was not effected by this change for the simple fact that there were no such pagan practices in Armenia, on that date, and the fact that the Armenia was not within Roman Empire. Thus Armenians have continued to celebrate Christmas on January 6th until today.

On this day a ceremony called “Blessing of Water” is conducted in the Armenian Apostolic Church to commemorate Christ’s Baptism. Except this, there are several events happening on this date. On the eve of the feast of the Holy Christmas (January 5), in the evening a liturgy is served, which is called “Chragaluits” (burning lamps). On this day, believers light a candle in the church and bring it home to light the house and prepare for the feast.

What should be served on this day in Armenia?

There are several dishes that are mandatory to have at once: sweet pilaf from rice, dried apricots and raisins, dishes from greens and fish, and for dessert Gata. Also red wine is a must.
Each of those dishes has its own purpose. Rice symbolizes the people on the Earth, raisins and dried apricots are prayers.
Fish has been a symbol of Christians since ancient times and distinguished them from followers of other religions.
Red wine symbolizes the blood of Jesus Christ. and the round traditional sweet bread Gata is divided into 12 pieces, symbolizing the 12 months of the year.


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