Saturday, January 06, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Today is Christmas in the Armenian Church. The New York Times had a nice article today explaining why we do things the way we do. Basically, we were the only church not threatened by pagans, so we kept the celebration of Christ's birth and baptism together, while all other churches split them up.

In the words of my priest, when people ask, "Why do you celebrate Christmas on January 6th?" the correct answer is "Why DON'T you?" :) That is a little antagonistic, I admit, and I wouldn't really recommend it.

New York Times Article on Armenian Christmas

One of the interesting things that this article points out is the benefit of having the celebration of Christmas be on a different day than Dec. 25th. Having Christmas on Jan. 6th means that most of the commercial, end-of-year retail push, etc. is over, and you can truly concentrate on Christ's birth.

What is kind of ironic about this POV is that really, Christmas isn't a big deal in the Armenian Church. I mean, it's a feast day, we're happy, we celebrate, we bless water, but Christmas is NOTHING compared to Easter, at least from a religious standpoint.

Christmas is a big deal in the US, and most of the Western World, though, so the Armenians I know still make a big deal out of it, even though traditionally, back in the "old country," it wasn't. However, these Armenians ALSO make a big deal about Easter, much bigger than most people in the US. Let's face it- Lent is all about self-denial, which will never be popular with companies, and Easter isn't as big of a deal when it doesn't come at the end of this period of self-sacrifice. If you make an effort to observe Lent, however you do it, whether it's going vegan the whole time like you are "supposed" to, or going vegan two days a week (I did this last year), or giving up something in particular like many Catholics do, you are going to be relieved when Easter rolls around!

I couldn't get to service today, but I am going to go tomorrow. We are still out of town- we have been out of town for almost 3 weeks now, so I haven't been able to go to church. There is one that is about an hour away by public transportation, and since they will be blessing the water, I am going to go. It will be interesting trying a new church for the first time in a year.

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