You are currently viewing Christmas in Armenia. Why Do Armenians Celebrate Christmas on January 6th?

Christmas in Armenia. Why Do Armenians Celebrate Christmas on January 6th?

Lent are the first feast of the church year and the last of the civil year. Its 40-day duration reminds us of Moses’ fast on Mount Sinai when he waited to receive God’s words written on the stone tablets of the Law. 

Armenians fast before Christmas because they consider this period a time of purification. The Christmas fast lasts 40 days, as does the Easter fast. The Lent of the Nativity is more permissive, with more days of unleavened, and ends at Christmas.

In the beginning, all Christian churches celebrated this Nativity also on January 6, but later, by order of Constantine the Great, the Catholic Church, for example, began to celebrate it on December 25. The Armenian Church has not changed, and until now the Armenian Church and the ancient Eastern churches have remained faithful to mark the day of the Holy Nativity and Baptism on the same day, 6 January.

Read also: Feast of the Transfiguration. What Was the Transfiguration of Jesus?

How long does the Armenian Christmas fast last?

Armenians around the world celebrate the Nativity and Baptism of the Lord on January 6. Christmas Eve is on January 5. Together with good deeds, prayer, and humility, fasting is a means of acquiring the virtues.

The Armenian Christmas fast lasts from 30 December to 5 January. I don’t know if it is observed with holiness because January 1st is the New Year and therefore it must be celebrated too. From a dietary point of view, Lent is easier than Lent because fish is eaten on all Saturdays and Sundays, as well as on religious holidays.

The Orthodox Churches have not fallen “to peace” and as such, some have celebrated Christmas on 25 December, such as the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church, the Egyptian Coptic Church, the Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox Churches, the Syriac Orthodox Church, and the Malankara Orthodox Church in India are to celebrate Christmas on 6 January. It all stems from the decisions of the Council of Chalcedon (451), which the Armenian church representatives did not attend because of the fighting with the Persians. It is certain that in this context the Armenian Orthodox people respect the primary Christian calendar.

Read more: Feast of Saints Peter and Paul. Why do St. Peter and Paul share a feast day?

Along with the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church, other Eastern Orthodox Churches, the so-called non-Chalcedonian Churches, keep the same tradition of celebrating Christmas on 6 January, with the Baptism of the Lord: the Egyptian Coptic Church, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, the Eritrean Church, the Syriac Orthodox Church and the Malankara Orthodox Church in India.

Armenians call Christmas Shnorhavor Amanor yet Surb Tznund Day. On Christmas, Armenians wish each other “Shnorhavor Nor Dari iv Surp Dznunt”. For Armenians around the world, it is Christmas Eve. If for Orthodox Christians they have already ended, for Armenian and Old Style believers they are just beginning. For the Armenians, it’s Christmas Eve, children caroling, and receiving gifts from Santa Claus.

“The date of the celebration of the Nativity was changed in the Roman Empire after the acceptance of Christianity among the religions of the empire by Emperor Constantine (Edict of Milan, 313 CE).

Key Verse related to Armenian Christmas

“There is a danger one has to be knowing much more because you can’t be too narrow on science.”

Author: Ahmed H. Zewail

Christmas in Armenia

Read also: All Saints’ Day. What Is The History And Meang Of This Feast?

The Christmas tree custom is not known exactly where it originated. It is thought that the Christmas tree first appeared among the Germanic peoples, and in time it became part of Christian tradition. 

At Christmas time, Armenians have Christmas trees. There is also the custom of placing a star at the top of the Christmas tree, a symbol of the star that guided the Magi to Bethlehem. 

Christmas has always been a holiday of joy for Christians, but especially for children, who look forward to decorating the Christmas tree or going trick-or-treating and receiving gifts in return. At the same time, it is customary for Christians to go to church on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and then have a family meal with their loved ones.