Armenian Christmas is celebrated annually on January 6. This holiday has been a part of Armenian traditions for more than 1700 years and has been celebrated in the same way since its inception. Most people find the date of the celebration odd, but it is actually in accordance with Christian traditions.
Unlike Catholics, Armenians celebrate the Epiphany of Christ, which is the revelation of Jesus Christ as the son of God rather than Christ’s birthday. Armenians celebrate this religious holiday by fasting, followed by feasts, including rice, nuts, desserts, and candies.
History of Armenian Christmas
The history of Armenia can be traced back as early as 3500 B.C. Scientists have discovered remains that prove that the Armenians existed during the Stone Age. In the 2nd century A.D., Armenia was ruled by Pompey. The reign ended when the Armenian Arsacid Dynasty was established. In 301 A.D., the Armenian Apostolic Church introduced Christianity in Armen, the country adopted Christianity as the main religion of the state, and became the first country to do so.
The Armenian Apostolic Church was independent of Catholic and Orthodox Churches. In Europe, people celebrated a Roman holiday named Solis Invicti. Solis Invicti was celebrated as a winter solstice holiday dedicated to King Helios. Instead of celebrating Christmas on the same day as Solis Invicti, Catholics decided to shift the date, so the two holidays don’t clash.
Thus, December 25 was marked as Christmas, and January 6 was chosen to be celebrated as the Feast Of The Epiphany. However, in Armenia, people did not observe Solis Invicti and hence did not feel the need to shift the dates. Armenians celebrated Christmas on January 6 and continued to do so. Armenian Christmas has been celebrated on January 6 ever since.
Some Armenians observe a fast a week before Armenian Christmas. It is followed by celebrations similar to Christmas celebrated worldwide on December 25. The celebrations include meeting up for family dinners, making traditional Armenian recipes, playing games, and exchanging gifts.
Armenian Christmas timeline
Armenian ancestors come from the Stone Age.
The Roman Empire expands through Armenia under the leadership of Domitius Corbulo.
Armenia is the first nation to adopt the Christian religion.
Armenians celebrate Christmas on January 6.
Armenian Christmas FAQs
Is there a particular name for Armenian Christmas?
Yes. In many Eastern countries, people refer to Armenian Christmas as Soorp Dznoont. The Christmas Tree is called Tonatsar. Some Armenians celebrate December 25 as Soop Stepanos Day.
What do Armenians do on Armenian Christmas Eve?
On January 5, Armenians light candles in their homes from the fire brought from church. It is believed that this removes the metaphorical darkness from their lives and brings prosperity and good fortune.
Why do some Armenians fast before Armenian Christmas?
Some Armenians observe a fast a week before Armenian Christmas as they believe that they should receive the food from the feast of Epiphany with a pure stomach.
Armenian Christmas Activities
Make traditional Armenian recipes
Sharpen your forks and knives, for it is time to put your cooking skills to the test. Try out traditional Armenian recipes like ‘Ishli Kufta,’ ‘Blinchik,’ ‘Ghapama,’ and Armenian ‘Dolma.’ Have these delicious meals with friends and family.
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Let everyone know that you're celebrating this day. Take pictures of you celebrating Armenian Christmas and post them on social media. You can also post articles on Armenian Christmas.
Learn more about Armenian history
As you dig deeper into the history of Armenia and Armenian Christmas, you will discover many interesting stories and facts related to the origin of this holiday. Use this day to improve your general knowledge.
5 Facts About The Celebration That Will Blow Your Mind
Dzmer Pap is Santa Claus
Dzmer Pap, the winter Godfather, is the Armenian counterpart of Santa Claus in Armenian Christmas.
Dzmer Pap used to leave advice only
In ancient times, Dzmer Pap gave advice only and did not encourage physical gift-giving.
Church fire is brought home
Some people bring fire from churches to their homes as they believe that their house will be blessed.
A coin in Gata means good luck
The person who finds a coin in gata (traditional Armenian sweet bread) will be the luckiest that year.
Relatives and neighbors are greeted at midnight
It is customary for Armenians to send festive greetings to relatives and neighbors by visiting them at midnight.
Why We Love Armenian Christmas
It makes us appreciate the diversity in this world
We often ignore the fact that all countries might not have the same beliefs or traditions regarding a festival. Armenian Christmas is a classic example of how the same holiday, Christmas, is celebrated on a different day than December 25. It makes us appreciate different cultures and belief systems.
It allows us to try out new recipes
Armenian Christmas allows us to try out traditional Armenian recipes. You can either try making gata and dolma or visit an Armenian restaurant nearby.
It gives us a chance to improve our knowledge
Armenian Christmas provides us with an opportunity to read and expand our knowledge of Armenian history and stories associated with it. It gives us a chance to learn more about the traditions and customs of this world.
Armenian Christmas dates