Armenian Christmas, the holy birth of Jesus Christ, is celebrated by the Armenian Apostolic Church on a different date, compared to most of other churches. The date is January 6. Learn its traditions and how to say Merry Christmas in Armenian!
Christmas is your favorite holiday, right?
If yes, what about celebrating Armenian Christmas on its date, following the traditions existing in the country, where so much beloved holiday maybe different from what you know?
What about learning how to say merry Christmas in Armenian?
If these questions caught your attention, then you’re obviously on the right page! Keep on reading for more details.
Armenian Christmas: The Date of Celebration
Some of you may be surprised by the date of celebration. Why not on December 25, like other Christian Churches in the world. The prehistory of the date may seem a bit complicated at first glance.
We all know that there is no concrete information on the date of birth of Jesus, neither is it mentioned in the Bible. But it is worth mentioning that until the 4th century all the Christian Churches celebrated Christmas on January 6.
According to the Roman-Catholic sources, the date was moved from January 6 to December 25 in order to make the people forget a pagan feast and its traditions dedicated to god of sun, which was celebrated on December 25.
The decision on changing the date was made at Council of Chalcedon in AD 451. But Armenian Christmas preserved the ancient traditions to its original date, as at that time no pagan celebrations were maintained in Armenia.
Armenian society pays great importance to Armenian Christmas and its traditions. Armenians fast in the week before Christmas, and the clergy fast for forty days before Christmas.
On the evening of January 5, people attend churches and participate in the celebration of the Christmas Eve Divine Liturgy and take lit candles to their houses. On the day of January 6 Armenians attend church and return for traditional Christmas Day family dinner.
Armenian Christmas vs New Year
Hope you guys will not be much disappointed, if you learn that in some ways New Year overrides Christmas in Armenia. Armenian Christmas is mainly observed as a religious feast, unlike New Year, which is there in the houses of ordinary people and in the hearts of children and adults.
Preparations for New Year start early in December, when all the corners of the republic are covered with decorations, lights, congratulatory messages, which warm cold winters during the days of New Year and Christmas.
How to Say Merry Christmas in Armenian?
By the way, have you ever thought how Armenians say Merry Christmas in Armenian? Well, it may not be easy, but it’s worth learning before going there.
As, we said Armenians celebrate Christmas and New Year pretty much at the same time and of course, Merry Christmas in Armenian can’t be pronounced without including new year.
This is how you say merry Christmas in Armenian. It may be translated as “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year”.
Armenian Christmas Decorations
Let’s speak more about decorations, as those simple shiny and bright objects are more than they may seem. Each of them carries interesting and notable Christian symbolism, which helps to see things in a new light.
Fir trees, and evergreens in general, were pagan symbols of immortality. Saint Boniface, who converted the German people to Christianity, brought the culture of fir tree as a sign of the Christian faith.
Round-year green tree is also a symbol of hope, and its crest upward, with an angel or a star on the top, turns our thoughts to heaven. Because the tree is cut down and then reborn again, it is a symbol of Christ’s resurrection.
Among Christmas decorations tinsel is one of the most symbolic and attractive ones. A legend goes back to a poor, Christian family, who wanted to decorate Christmas tree, but had no money for decorations.
At night, a spider came and spun webs around the tree. In the morning, Christ Child, appreciating the family’s faith, turned the webs into silver. Now those glittering and festive threads are inseparable parts of interior and exterior decorations.
Candles and Christmas lights are the symbols of Christ, the Light of the World.
These catchy stories about symbols of Christmas are endless, and you will really find a lot of interesting stuff, if google for them.
Armenian Christmas and New Year: Preparations and Hustle
Inside Armenian houses, the same thing happens; seasonal cleaning is over- women haven’t saved efforts and means to meet New Year in a clean house.
Walls and windows wear their holiday dressings, Armenian Christmas tree (in Armenian – Tonatsar) becomes a special guest of every family for several days, decorated in the middle of December and removed after Christmas.
At the beginning of December, people start attacking food stores and supermarkets. They spend all the money they have been saving through the whole year on that sacred day.
Yes! Abundant tables and variety of dishes are the core of the celebrations. Whatever your stomach desires can be found in traditional Armenian New Year table! Don’t you believe? Let’s bet.
Meat products in the face of traditional dolma, glazed ham, chicken, turkey, stuffed meatballs (Ishli Kufta) etc., overwhelm the table.
But you can also find salads, fruits, dried fruits, nuts, rojik (whole shelled walnuts threaded on a string and encased in grape jelly), assortment of cheese and sausages, sweets, traditional Armenian cakes, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, etc.
Not hungry anymore? One thing is certain. It is worth seeing and tasting all of these, as everything is homemade and to say tasty, is not enough.
Armenian Christmas: Santa Claus or Armenian Dzmer Pap?
But not for food, the children like New Year, but for the visit of Santa Claus, called Dzmer Pap in Armenian, who secretly penetrates into the houses on December 31-January 1 overnight.
In the morning of January 1, children find presents and candies under their pillows or Christmas tree. They are overjoyed, shiny and happy, what can be more valuable?
Adults also exchange presents mainly in the form of a box of candies and a bottle of beverage, while paying a visit to each other’s house from January 1 to even January 13, the day, when Armenians celebrate old New Year.
Nowadays, many families, especially young people are establishing a new culture of celebrating Armenian Christmas and New Year. Meantime many Western traditions penetrate into Armenian culture of celebrations.
They flee to the countryside to celebrate those family holidays in a narrow circle of family members and friends in some winter resort, enjoying winter miracles of Armenian nature.
Others celebrate New Year night at restaurants, dancing and feasting with the relatives and friends all the night, freeing their women from all cooking, cleaning and stuff like that.
Armenian Christmas Dishes
Armenian Christmas table cannot be compared with New Year table, as the latter is much more abundant and varied. But if a New Year table displays the financial status, skills of family’s mother and other curious aspects of the particular family, Armenian Christmas table has its traditional dishes.
The main dishes include fish, which is a symbol of Christianity. Pilaf with raisins, symbolize apostles spread around the world. There is also yogurt/wheat soup called tanapur or spas, fruits and nuts.
The way of preparation of these meals depends on the family traditions. Some families just boil the fish and serve with lemon and greens, others have their special methods of preparation.
Cooking spas is also easy. You simply need yogurt (Armenian matsun), water, an egg, wheat and greens. And, of course, all this is washed up with several glasses of wine, which symbolizes blood of Christ shed for the people.
If you are fond of family gatherings, warm atmosphere, tasty food, and have a strong stomach, Armenian Christmas and New Year will become a real feast for you!
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