By Brandon HENSLEY
For the many Armenian-Americans living in the Crescenta Valley area, the time has come once again to celebrate the birth of Jesus.
Because for the Armenian community, Christmas is celebrated on Jan. 6 every year instead of Dec. 25.
The observance is in line with the Gregorian calendar, named after Pope Gregory XIII, in the 1500s.
“Armenians who observe the Gregorian calendar accept and chose the day of the ancient date of Jan. 6 as the main celebration for our Lord,” said Armenag Bedrossian, a pastor associate for St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Catholic Church in Glendale.
But why is that so?
Historically, all Christian churches celebrated Christ’s birth on Jan. 6 up until the Fourth Century. According to the Roman Catholic Church, a pagan holiday that celebrated the birth of the sun on Dec. 25 was declared invalid.
But, “At that time Christians also used to continue their observance of pagan festivities,” Bedrossian said.
To draw them away from pagan rituals, the Church stepped in and declared Dec. 25 Christmas, a day to celebrate the Holy Nativity of Christ, and Jan. 6 would be the day to celebrate the Magi visiting Jesus and bringing gifts.
“They moved it to December the 25th because Jesus is our light. It’s the light that he came to earth. He’s the Son of God that took our body and became God,” Bedrossian said.
But the Armenian Church was not a satellite of the Roman Church, and did not celebrate the birth of the sun, or Saturnalia, so they still celebrated Christmas on Jan. 6 and continue to do so until this day.
On Jan. 5, Armenians who attend Mass take the bread, or the Holy Host, home.
“They take it to the house and they do the commemoration of or Lord Jesus Christ,” Bedrossian said.
Even though the dates may have changed for how Armenians and Christian Americans celebrate the birth of their savior, the fact remains that both still celebrate it for the same reason. The passion is the same.
“Our God became a human being, he took our body, our soul to come and live with us,” said Bedrossian, who also noted that Armenia became the first nation to be Christian. He added that it’s important for his people “because they remain faithful to the tradition.”