in , ,

Christmas in Armenia: A Journey Through Time-Honored Traditions

Discover the Unique Customs and Celebrations of Armenian Christmas

Armenia, a small, landlocked country in the South Caucasus region, is known for its rich culture and history, especially when it comes to celebrating Christmas. While influenced by global traditions, Christmas in Armenia remains deeply rooted in its unique customs and heritage.


The unique history and traditions of Armenian Christmas

Armenian Christmas is a blend of ancient and modern practices, heavily influenced by the country’s Christian faith. It is a time for families to come together and enjoy time-honored traditions, such as fasting, feasting, and attending church services.


The Origins of Armenian Christmas

The adoption of Christianity

Armenia was the first country to adopt Christianity as its official religion in 301 AD, which marked the beginning of the Armenian Christmas traditions. The country’s early acceptance of Christianity is one of the reasons why Armenian Christmas is so deeply rooted in its culture.

Celebrating Christmas on January 6th

Unlike most countries that celebrate Christmas on December 25th, Armenians observe Christmas on January 6th, which is known as “Theophany” or “Epiphany” in the Armenian Apostolic Church. This date represents both the birth and baptism of Jesus Christ, making it a particularly significant day in the Armenian Christian calendar.


Armenian Christmas Eve Traditions

Fasting and family gatherings

In the days leading up to Christmas, Armenians observe a period of fasting, abstaining from animal products as a form of spiritual preparation. On Christmas Eve, families gather to break the fast with a festive meal, often featuring traditional Armenian dishes.


The role of music and caroling

Music plays an important role in Armenian Christmas celebrations, with traditional Armenian songs and hymns being performed during the Christmas season. Caroling, known as “khorhoort medz” in Armenian, is a popular tradition where groups of children and adults visit homes in their community to sing Christmas songs and spread holiday cheer. In exchange, they are often given sweets, fruits, and other treats as a token of gratitude.


Armenian Christmas Foods

Traditional dishes during Christmas celebrations

Armenian Christmas cuisine is rich and diverse, featuring a variety of dishes that showcase the country’s culinary heritage. Some popular traditional foods enjoyed during Christmas include “khorovats” (barbecued meats), “dolma” (stuffed grape leaves), “kufta” (meatballs), “ghapama” (stuffed pumpkin), and “harissa” (a porridge made of wheat and meat). Desserts, such as “gata” (sweet bread) and “anoushabour” (a fruit and nut pudding), are also enjoyed during the holiday season.


The significance of bread and salt

Bread and salt hold special meaning in Armenian culture, symbolizing hospitality and friendship. During Christmas, it is common for Armenians to offer guests a piece of bread with salt as a sign of welcome and goodwill. This simple gesture is a reminder of the importance of kindness and generosity during the festive season.


Armenian Christmas Customs

Blessing of the water ceremony

One of the most important Armenian Christmas customs is the “blessing of the water” ceremony, which takes place in churches and homes on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. During this ritual, a priest blesses water by immersing a cross in it while reciting prayers. The blessed water is then used to sprinkle on family members and objects, symbolizing the renewal of spiritual life and protection from evil.


Candle lighting and the significance of fire

Candles and fire play a significant role in Armenian Christmas traditions, symbolizing the light of Christ and the warmth of the Holy Spirit. On Christmas Eve, many Armenians light candles in their homes and churches as a reminder of Jesus’ birth and the divine light that he brought to the world.


Church Services and Rituals

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services

Armenian Apostolic Church services on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are an integral part of the celebration. These services include the reading of scripture, prayers, and hymns, as well as the performance of traditional Armenian liturgical music. The faithful attend these services to receive blessings, partake in Holy Communion, and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

The role of the Armenian Apostolic Church

The Armenian Apostolic Church plays a central role in preserving and promoting Armenian Christmas traditions. As the national church of Armenia, it has maintained the customs and rituals that have been passed down through generations, ensuring that these cherished practices continue to thrive.


Armenian Christmas Decorations

Traditional decorations and symbols

Armenian Christmas decorations often feature traditional symbols such as the “khachkar” (stone cross), pomegranates, and wheat sheaves. These symbols represent various aspects of Armenian culture and spirituality, such as the importance of faith, fertility, and abundance.


Modern influences on Armenian Christmas decor

In recent years, global Christmas traditions have influenced Armenian Christmas decorations, with many Armenians incorporating elements such as Christmas trees, lights, and ornaments into their holiday décor. Despite these modern touches, the essence of Armenian Christmas remains true to its unique cultural heritage.


Christmas in Armenia Today

The influence of global Christmas traditions

As Armenia becomes more connected to the world, global Christmas traditions have begun to influence the way Armenians celebrate Christmas. While many Armenians have adopted practices such as exchanging gifts, decorating Christmas trees, and even welcoming Santa Claus, they continue to honor their distinct customs and religious heritage.

Unique aspects of modern Armenian Christmas celebrations

Modern Armenian Christmas celebrations are a fusion of both traditional and global customs, creating a unique experience for those who partake in the festivities. Whether attending a Christmas market, enjoying a festive concert, or visiting illuminated churches and public spaces, Armenians continue to celebrate Christmas in a way that reflects their rich history and vibrant culture.



Christmas in Armenia is a special time of year that combines ancient traditions with modern influences, creating a truly unique experience. From the observance of Christmas on January 6th and the blessing of the water ceremony to the rich culinary offerings and the fusion of traditional and global decorations, Armenian Christmas is a fascinating celebration that showcases the country’s deep-rooted cultural heritage and spirituality.



  1. Why do Armenians celebrate Christmas on January 6th?Armenians celebrate Christmas on January 6th because it represents both the birth and baptism of Jesus Christ, making it a particularly significant day in the Armenian Christian calendar.
  2. What are some traditional Armenian Christmas foods?Traditional Armenian Christmas foods include khorovats, dolma, kufta, ghapama, harissa, gata, and anoushabour.
  3. What is the significance of the blessing of the water ceremony?The blessing of the water ceremony is an important Armenian Christmas custom that symbolizes the renewal of spiritual life and protection from evil.
  4. How has the Armenian Christmas celebration evolved over time?While the core traditions of Armenian Christmas have remained intact, modern influences such as Christmas trees, lights, and global customs have been incorporated into the celebrations, creating a unique fusion of old and new practices.
  5. What role does the Armenian Apostolic Church play in preserving Armenian Christmas traditions?The Armenian Apostolic Church plays a central role in preserving and promoting Armenian Christmas traditions by maintaining customs and rituals passed down through generations, ensuring the continued celebration of this cherished holiday.

Average rating 4.9 / 5. Voted: 12

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *