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Friday, December 31st, 2010

Armenian Christmas: January 6

Nadia Ivanova - Fotolia.com

Armenian Christmas, also known as Theophany, is celebrated one day before the Orthodox Christmas. Although Armenia follows the Gregorian calendar, when the Romans changed the date of Christmas to December 25 in the fourth century, Armenians held to the original January 6th date.

Santa Claus/Father Christmas is known as Gaghant Baba to Armenians. He traditionally comes on New Year’s Eve (December 31st), which is the start of the holiday season leading up to Christmas. Traditionally, many devout Armenians fast during the week before Christmas. During this six day period, it is customary for family and friends to visit each other. Christmas Day is a religious holiday in Armenia. It is customary to visit family and celebrate with a traditional meal.

The foods cooked vary depending on where in the world the Armenian community is (Armenia, Lebanon, Syria, Iran, etc). While the population of Armenia is just over three million, there are approximately eight million Armenians living outside Armenia, across the Diaspora. The Armenian Diaspora was formed largely as a result of the Armenian Genocide in 1915-1916 where 1.5 million Armenians were killed by the Ottomans. The present day Turkish government has still not recognized the event as a genocide.

Fun fact about Armenia: The Armenian alphabet is one of the oldest in the world that is still in use. It has survived through different empires, migrations and genocide. Here’s a great article from the New York Times about the alphabet.

© 2010 – 2013, The Editors. All rights reserved.

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