The Armenian Christmas and New Year Controversy

The Armenian Apostolic church uses the Julian Calendar and celebrates Christmas on January 6th. The Fast of Holy Nativity  starts on the evening of December 29th and ends on the Christmas Eve.
Meanwhile, most Armenians lay lavish tables on New Year’s Eve and celebrate with a lot of food. Khozi bood (glazed ham) and lots of meat products leave little chance for the believers determined to fast. New Year’s Eve and the following 3 days are a period of paying courtesy visits to relatives, respected friends, colleges and seating at the table and tasting the plentiful food…
A lot of Christmas symbolism is applied to the New Year instead of Christmas in Armenia. On New Year’s Eve we put up a Tonatsar (Christmas tree), prepare gifts for our children, because Dzmer Pap (or Kaghand Pap, otherwise known as Santa Clause) with Dzyunanushik (Snow-white, Santa Clause’s granddaughter) comes to Armenia on New Year’s Eve, not on Christmas.
Things get further complicated, because many young people celebrate Christmas on December 25th, with the tradition of Western Christian Church penetrating Armenia through Hollywood movies  and other types of Californication.

 The Christmas holiday season starts on New Year’s Eve (December 31st) and continues until the old Julian calendar’s New Year’s Eve on January 13th.

Christmas Day itself is more of a religious holiday in Armenia, so the feasts of New Year’s Eve are not really seen as appropriate. The day’s traditional food is harisa, fish and red wine.
With all of this confusion, New Year becomes Armenia’s favorite holiday, while the real Holy Day – the day of Christmas, pales and becomes something of a complimentary holiday.
I understand, that the root of the problem lies in our Soviet heritage. The Communists, who were atheists in their beliefs, fought fiercely against Christianity for 70 years. This included forbidding Christmas and encouraging lavish celebration of New Year as a replacement. Now, 20 years after Soviets are gone, we still see the impact.
I volunteered to work on December 31st and January 1st this year (as well as previous two years), because I firmly believe, that the real holiday for me should be the Armenian Christmas day – January 6th. Consider this my little protest against the extravagant New Year celebrations and a challenge to myself, to learn to appreciate real Armenian traditions and values.
I want to finish this post by wishing you all a “Shnorhavor Soorb Tsnund” (which means ‘Congratulations for the Holy Birth’). Let this year be full of blessings and joy for us and our wonderful country – Armenia.

Artur Papyan

Journalist, blogger, digital security and media consultant


  1. Thanks Art jan! Great post! Great Idea! LY!

  2. Thanks for enlightening me about Armenian tradition. Aptly said. One must preserve their cultural identity.

  3. On a related note, here’s a video on traditional Armenian cuisine for Christmas

      ay Hayer jan, ays inch hamov u hotov Hayqakan chashaeric mekn e
      ax sirts shat uzum e sh’norogov ev hamex Hayqakan chasheric mek@
      iskapes yerdvum em, uzum em ashxatel Hay xohanocum
      I think I will be good HAYQakan chef….what you think????
      JAAAAAAN it will be qef every day in the kitchen with Hayaser Ando

      1. Yeah “Hayaser” Azik Ando, one day you trash-talk Christianity, next you watch a video about Christianity and pretending you LOOOOOOOVEEE ITTTTT
        “VAY QEZ MERRNEEEEEEM”…. Yeah du lav chef klines Aliyevi koghmits… vor hayerin tunavores LRTES.

  4. Apres, axpers. 🙂 Schnorhavor nor tari, yev surb tsnund. Tox Astvatz orhni ko untanik@.
    Yes shat sireci Nor Tari Hayastanum. 🙂

  5. >>>…to learn to appreciate real Armenian traditions and values.
    CEXAKRONutyun HUNVAR 14-ic….ay ara etenc u veeeeeeeerj 🙂
    The Cexakron HAYasers will be celebrating our religion of race on Jan. 14th., but real Cexakron HAYasers celebrate & worship their race EVERY DAY !!!!
    In the meantime, I die for these beautiful wonderful JAAAAAAN ARyan-Kavkasyan Hay children, baliiiiiiiikneeeeer dzes JAAAAAAN em asel, ay dzes merrneeeeeem ay hamovik Hay yerexanner, dzesanic lav@ chi kaaaaa. ay teseq iskakan Hay yerexanneric, teseq ev imaceq vorqan sirun, vorqan lav u bari, vorqan ayl lav en artasanum. sirun poqrikner ba duq eq mer kyanq@, mer apagan, de aydpes dzes utem utem uteeeeeeeeeem ay hamovikneeeeeer…….u verj !!!!

  6. Mez ev dzez mets avetis, Observer jan!

    1. Thank jan – and I saw your WordPress blog – a very interesting one as well. I’ll add it to my “compulsory” reading list! :))

      1. Merci!
        You are the blogger, and I’m just posting my everyday thoughts:)

  7. PPL, I have to confess, that I’ve made a factual mistake in the main post. I found out about it thanks to a hint from a Google+ friend.
    It turns out, that the reason we – Armenians mark Christmas on January 6 has no relation to the usage of either Julian or Gregorian calendar. The Armenian Apostolic Church has an official explanation here

    1. Looks like the Google+ friend has come across Hayaser’s posts for the first time 🙂

      1. @IA
        what is that suppose to mean?
        tell him (assuming its Tigran) to post whatever he posted about me in here. cause I dont see anything regarding me in this particulat blog or in his g+

      2. not you but your style/content of entries. To an unfamiliar person, it’s quite depressing.

        1. @guest
          you dont like the truth and reality of the world, then LEAVE THIS PLANET….GO LIVE IN YOUR FAKE WONDERLAND, GO MAKE YOUR OWN REALITY and TRUTH else where

  8. >>>to learn to appreciate real Armenian traditions and values….

  9. I am now livin in that what you called western culture where they celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December and they mix all these santa claus and christmas tree pagan stuff with the birth of Christ. Not to say that Christ told us to follow any days (in the Bible the apostle Paul even is forbidding to follow any days…). With our armenian Christmas much of the attention is Christ’s birth rather than on the pagan things. And we do need to make decision to separate ourselves from all the paganism that is present today in Armenia. God is Jealous God and doesn’t share Himself with other gods or what is more with any santa claus.

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