Published: 30-08-2010, 15:18

Christmas in Armenia

Christmas in Armenia: New Year’s Day and Christmas in Armenia

Most Armenians celebrate Soorp Dznoont—Christmas — on January 6. The reasons for this unusual date emerge quite literally from the pages of ancient history. In the fourth century Roman Catholic Church officials established the date of Christmas as December 25. Before that time the Armenians and some other Christians celebrated the Nativity of Jesus and his baptism on the same day January 6 (see also Epiphany). Eventually other Christian communities accepted the Roman date for the Nativity. The Armenians, however, never accepted the new date for Christmas and continued to celebrate it on January 6.

When Pope Gregory XIII instituted the Gregorian calendar in 1582, some Armenians rejected the reforms and stuck instead to the old, Julian calendar (see Old Christmas Day). Today Armenians living in the Holy Land still use the Julian calendar to determine their feast days. The Julian calendar is now a full thirteen days ahead of the Gregorian calendar. So, when these Armenians celebrate Christmas on January 6 according to the Julian calendar, the Gregorian calendar counts the day as January 19. In Bethlehem special services for Armenian Christians take place at the Church of the Nativity on January 19.