Merry Armenian Christmas — Orthodox Christmas

Armenia

Armenians celebrate Christmas (surb tsnunt, Սուրբ Ծնունդ, meaning “saint birth”) on January 6 as a public holiday in Armenia. It also coincides with the Epiphany. Traditionally, Armenians fast during the week leading up to Christmas. Devout Armenians may even refrain from food for the three days leading up to the Christmas Eve, in order to receive the Eucharist on a “pure” stomach. Christmas Eve is particularly rich in traditions. Families gather for the Christmas Eve dinner (khetum, Խթում), which generally consists of: rice, fish, nevik (նուիկ, a vegetable dish of green chard and chick peas), and yogurt/wheat soup (tanabur, թանապուր). Dessert includes dried fruits and nuts, including rojik, which consists of whole shelled walnuts threaded on a string and encased in grape jelly, bastukh (a paper-like confection of grape jelly, cornstarch, and flour), etc. This lighter menu is designed to ease the stomach off the week-long fast and prepare it for the rather more substantial Christmas Day dinner. Children take presents of fruits, nuts, and other candies to older relatives.

It is frequently asked as to why Armenians do not celebrate Christmas on December 25 with the rest of the world. Obviously, the exact date of Christ’s birth has not been historically established—it is not recorded in the Gospels. However, historically, all Christian churches celebrated Christ’s birth on January 6 until the fourth century. According to Roman Catholic sources, the date was changed from January 6 to December 25 in order to override a pagan feast dedicated to the birth of the Sun which was celebrated on December 25. At the time Christians used to continue their observance of these pagan festivities. In order to undermine and subdue this pagan practice, the church hierarchy designated December 25 as the official date of Christmas and January 6 as the feast of Epiphany. However, Armenia was not affected by this change for the simple fact that there were no such pagan practices in Armenia, on that date, and the fact that the Armenian Church was not a satellite of the Roman Church. Thus, remaining faithful to the traditions of their forefathers, Armenians have continued to celebrate Christmas on January 6 until today.[42]

In addition to the Christmas tree (tonatsar, Տօնածառ), Armenians (particularly in the Middle East) also erect the Nativity scene. Christmas in the Armenian tradition is a purely religious affair. Santa Claus does not visit the nice Armenian children on Christmas, but rather on New Year’s Eve. The idea of Santa Claus existed before the Soviet Union and he was named kaghand papik (Կաղանդ Պապիկ), but the Soviet Union had a great impact even on Santa Claus. Now he goes by the more secular name of Grandfather Winter (dzmerr papik, Ձմեռ Պապիկ).

CREDITS: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_worldwide

Once A Year Church Goers On Easter, An Issue That Has Hit Close To My Heart

I attended Church for the Easter Celebrations and to Thank Jesus for sacrificing his life for us, and I was reflecting, praying and giving thanks to God and Jesus for giving me an incredible and loving family, friends, and supporters as well as everything I have. I feel it is very important to me to attend church more often and to be in one roof with uniting with the community to be God’s house. I believe that a church is not a church until there are so many people in it. Or else It will just be a building. That’s what it is when people don’t fill it. What really hit close to my heart was that there were people I had seen at church today that only come once a year and don’t even bother to take 1-3 hours of their lives on Sundays or as much as they are able to attend during the year to get into God’s house and to pray and to reflect.

I know some people will debate with me to tell me that it doesn’t matter where you are, you can always pray to God. Yes I agree with people who think that way, and it doesn’t matter if you go to church or not as long as your a great christian and try to live life clean and happy, I agree as well, but let me tell you something, Going to Church is so much more different, and its good to take Sunday’s and spend it with family, getting dressed, going to church. Its a great feeling. Seeing the Altar, the priests and the altar people. Its incredible to be experiencing church too. I know sometimes life is busy and hectic with family to take care of and people who work and everything else, but try to make time for church, try to give your time to Jesus who gave up his life for us, and to appreciate him. A Church cannot function if people do not go into them.

On Record there must have been over 3000 people at church. This has hit me quite hard. I try my every effort to be in church as much as I am able to and I go a lot every year. I also make it a commitment to attend Bible studies and to keep my faith updated and on track. Hearing God’s words comforts me and making friends and getting into people is something I truly love. I love my Armenian Church community. I have made so many friends from it. Today 1 in 3 or 4 people came to me to shake my hand and kiss me on the cheek to say happy Easter to me and talked to me. A few have come up to me to compliment me and my blog and among everything else. I am super happy for going to church since I was a kid. I am so happy my parents took me as a young child and I am so close to my Armenian community and the church. I love it so much. I know sometimes the Armenian Church Mass takes longer than usual, but its the beauty and the sounds and songs and prayer that make everything else not matter. Its a beautiful thing.

Remember the Easter Bunny, the Chocolates or the Eggs and the colors did not die for us and our sins. Jesus did. God Bless everyone and May God Be with all of you.

Another Easter has come and gone… Lets Pray that people will attend church more often… Amen

****This topic is in General and for the Believer Readers****

Attending Bible Study At My Armenian Church Is So Important To Me

Since toward the end of 2006, I began on my own personal spiritual reflection and journey to attend bible studies at my Armenian Church. After a year and a half of attending bible studies, I was appointed the communications director for up to 2-3 years to send out e-mails, to create flyers and keep the Armenian Community in the know about upcoming bible studies, upcoming outreach programs, volunteering at children’s aid to wrap Christmas presents, and spending time in senior homes with the elderly with my Armenian Church community, and I also attend another Armenian Bible Study that we take weekend retreats once or twice a year out of town with the Armenian Religious Education Council (AREC). It was a truly rewarding experience and I still attend bible studies to this day. I love keeping my bond with the Lord Jesus Christ, and reflecting upon how incredible it feels to hear God’s words and to learn about life and the true meaning of what God and the Bible chapters really mean.

I feel so close with God and I feel refreshed each time I attend church and the studies. Now I am only attending bible studies once a week on Thursday evenings. I have made so many friends from it and we all share a special bond together and we have become like family and we continue our journey together outside of bible studies and we go out, and we enjoy each others company so much. We have grown together and we know each other so well that we know what each other will say, we know the moves and signals we give toward each other, we know each others characters very well, we know the importance of togetherness and enjoying each other that we don’t even feel the time going. Our conversations, our inside jokes, and our gatherings are so special to me. They happen to be some of the most awesome people I have ever met in my life. It is great to attend a church function or a community outreach, retreats, bible studies and knowing the outcome of it will be positive and one that is so fulfilling to its fullest extent. It has become a huge ray of sunlight in my life knowing that I have somewhere I look forward to going all the time. I try my best not to miss any bible study discussions or friend gatherings, but sometimes life and busyness gets in the middle, but I am determined all the time.

It is not about the material, physical being, but it is also about the spiritual and inner personal reflections that makes everything great. I wouldn’t be who I am today if it weren’t for the supportive friends and family who always give the energy to me and tell me to never stop going to bible studies which I enjoy thoroughly. Each person who teaches bible studies have their own personal ways of teaching the bible and I do not like to judge people by that. In the end I like to hear Gods words and get different opinions about it from different teachers/priests/fathers/pastors/ etc… I really like my priest very much. He explains the bible to the level where we could understand, he lets us ask questions, and he is so passionate about it and he answers beautifully to us. I can hardly wait until Thursday again to go back to the bible study and hear and learn some more. The Bible is a never ending learning spiritual journey and there is so much to absorb and so much to read and the bible is also beyond the book itself. The life bible and what we can do in our lives to live with the words from The Bible and learn. Life is a never ending process of learning, absorbing information. Just be thankful everyday and never lose hope on anything because you can turn the impossible to possible because I’M Possible (impossible) . Always remember to every physical, mental and emotional side, there is always a spiritual and reflective side to life. Balance out your life today. make positive changes for a better tomorrow.