Why the Armenian Apostolic Church celebrates Christmas on January 6th

Since the 4th century, the Armenian Church has always commemorated the Feast of the Holy Nativity on January 6. Baptism of the Lord is always celebrated at the same time while other Christian churches celebrate Holy Nativity on December 25 and Baptism on January 6.

In the Universal Christian Church, the feasts of the Nativity and Baptism were already celebrated in the 5th and 6th centuries. It’s hard to say when these holidays were born. All we know is that at the end of the 3rd century, the Epiphany or Theophany was celebrated on January 6th, and they were glorified in a single ceremony, both celebrating the Nativity and Baptism of Christ.

The party started the day before and went through the afternoon of January 6. This holiday was also called the “Day of Lights,” because in the shrines Christians circled lit lamps in their hands. At the Twilight of January 5 was “The Blessing of Water” at the time, the purification of Water, in which throughout the night, the Catechumens were baptized.

The feast, as we know it by the work of Gregory the theologian, took place the next day, January 6. In the Western Christian world, Rome, the Holy Nativity of Jesus Christ began in the year 336, on December 25. We learn from the appearance of the Roman calendar, in the year 354, which was then called the “Philocal Calendar”

The Church of Rome considered December as the first day of the new year. On this day, the Romans celebrated “The birth of the invincible sun” (NATALIS SOLIS LA VICTI), that is, the victory of light over darkness, the predominance From day to night.

The new Christians in Rome opposed this pagan holiday, that of the Sun and Justice, to that of Divine Light, which became the feast of the Holy Nativity of Jesus. This is how the initiative the Church of Rome took to celebrate the Holy Nativity of the Lord on December 25 spread…

First time in the East. Patriarch Hovnan the Golden Mouth in 386, in his “Christmas speeches,” said that 10 years ago, in Antioch, the Holy Nativity of Christ was born on December 25.

Almost at the same time the Church of Constantinople also started celebrating the same day. This is how in the 5th and 6th centuries almost all Christian Churches celebrate the Holy Nativity of Christ on December 25. Since the Armenian Apostolic Church is the only one to remain faithful to the authentic date of the Feast of the Holy Nativity of the Lord, January 6.

The Church of Armenia always celebrated Christmas and Christ’s Baptism on January 6. We get the 1st testimony through the scriptures of the book “The Revelation of Christ” by Catholicos Hovhannes of Armenians.

According to him, this feast lives the day with the 2 glorious births of the Son of God: a) First he was born of the Virgin Mary, b) 30 years later, the same day, he was reborn by baptism in the waters of the Jordan.

This holiday is called “Revelation” because the Holy Spirit “the same day, descended from heaven in the form of a dove sitting on Him” announcing the coming of the Savior of the world, this revelation took place twice; during the birth, then at the Baptism class.

In Armenian literature, several men of letters have often spoken of evidence of the authenticity of the date of January 6 that the Armenian Apostolic Church still celebrates today.


Jacob, the Lord’s brother, set up this feast of Revelation and ordered that Christmas and Christ’s Baptism be held on the same day. This commemoration was stopped on January 6 and received no opposition, neither from the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, nor the Apostles who were still alive. So it was celebrated until the reign of Caesar Justinian.


Anania de Chirak and Paul de Daron based on the 6th article of the “Apostles Canons” say; It was the apostles who established and ordered that the feast of the Holy Nativity and Revelation be among the great festivals of the Church, on the 21st day of the less of TIBET, which corresponds to the 6th day of January according to the Romans.


The Apostolic Tradition of celebrating the Holy Nativity of Christ on January 6 was held at the Council of Nice (334). Patriarch Magar of Jerusalem sent a letter to Armenia saying that the date of January 6 is maintained.

Patriarch Cirylle of Jerusalem (315-386) also approved January 6 as the unique date established by the Apostles. According to Anania de Chirak, the students of Corinth took these 2 feasts away from the Nativity and Baptism of Christ; and the Greeks followed them.


The Gospel according to Saint Luke says, “Jesus was thirty years old” (Luke 3.3). According to some theologians of our Church Christ, on January 6, the anniversary of his birth, was just thirty years old, when he arrived in Jordan to be baptized. Because if he was born on Dec. 25 he would have been baptized 12 days after his thirty years, meaning he would have been baptized in his 31st year.


Archbishop John of Nice, in his letter to the Armenian Catholicos Zaccaré (855-876) stated that the nativity of Christ was moved from January 6 to December 25. He tried to explain it this way: “It was an Apostolic decision and a first inheritance of Jacob, named brother of the Lord and he defined January 6 as the feast day of the Nativity and Baptism; it was the Romans who advanced the Christmas on Dec 25 while the Baptism was held on Jan 6. there’s still more historical evidence, but we’ll stay there.

St. Nersès the Gracious (Chenorhali) says; “If 6 January or 25 December have been celebrated, it has always been to the glory of God.” He says on another occasion that such an event is not a fault because the person who celebrates, whatever the da is without your vengeance, please the Lord.

Catholicos Kirakis of Erzindjian says “That we celebrate January 6th and they celebrate December 25th it’s all to the glory of God because they believe as we do, we believe, that the CXhrist was born of the Virgin Mary to the salvation of the world. Whatever the day of Christmas is, it will always be good if it is chosen with love, and for the glory of God.”

By Father Komitas Hovnanyan Teken from Armenians And Armenia

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