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There is an overwhelming amount of Christmas greetings coming to my email address and office these days, wishing Merry Christmas and best of luck on December 25th – the Christmas day. It is all great and pleasant – to be remembered, and greeted by so many. There is one observation, that I have to make however.
I find it quite reasonable that my international contacts are greeting me on December 25th – and wishing a Merry Christmas, and I’m very happy to be able to return the greetings. However, when Armenian friends and colleagues start greeting on December 25th – I find it somewhat irritating. The thing is – Armenian Christmas is on January 6th. What is wrong with remembering this one single most important date for the Armenian Apostolic church, and instead of bundling up with the rest of the world, wish me Merry Christmas on January 6th?
To give a little more weight to this post and my ‘irritations’, I tried to look up the Christmas date on the Encyclopædia Britannica:
One widespread explanation of the origin of this date is that December 25 was the Christianizing of the dies solis invicti nati (“day of the birth of the unconquered sun”), a popular holiday in the Roman Empire that celebrated the winter solstice as a symbol of the resurgence of the sun, the casting away of winter and the heralding of the rebirth of spring and summer.
A second view suggests that December 25 became the date of Jesus’ birth by a priori reasoning that identified the spring equinox as the date of the creation of the world and the fourth day of creation, when the light was created, as the day of Jesus’ conception (i.e., March 25). December 25, nine months later, then became the date of Jesus’ birth. For a long time the celebration of Jesus’ birth was observed in conjunction with his baptism, celebrated January 6.
The Armenian Apostolic Church generally shares the doctrinal beliefs of the Eastern Orthodox church, except on the Monophysite question, and retains traditional Armenian rites. The dates here often do not correspond with dates of any other church. And that makes the Armenian Church even more special – so let’s respect it, and wish us our very Armenian Merry Christmas on January 6th.
In the meantime, let me use this opportunity and wish Merry Christmas to all readers, for whom Christmas is indeed on December 25th. Merry Christmas to you – dear readers and friends, best of luck, happiness and joy. Merry Christmas!!!