In October, fighting broke out between two former Soviet-held countries, Armenia and Azerbaijan. The short war resulted in more than 5,000 dead and 100,000 displaced.
A cease-fire ended the fighting in November, but Armenia has been wracked by ongoing strife since then.
Now it’s winter in Armenia. The cold weather might be brutal, but the citizens of this historically Christian nation make it through by drawing on warm traditions of faith and family.
The first recorded celebration of Christmas was in the year 336 AD when the Roman emperor Constantine declared December 25th would be celebrated as the day of Christ’s birth. But more than 30 years earlier, Armenians were commemorating the birth of Christ on a different day – January 6th. And it’s still celebrated that way here today.
“We celebrate Christmas on the eve of Christmas, the night of January 5th, and that’s when we celebrate the candlelight liturgy and that’s when we announce the birth of the Christ,” said Armenian worshipper Seda Grigorian. “And the next day, in the morning January 6 again we have liturgies all over, at churches all over the world.”
More than 95% of Armenians claim Christianity, and so religious holidays like this one are very important here, following the traditions passed down by the Armenian Apostolic Church for millennia.
The Hagartsin Monastery is located in the northern part of Armenia in a town called Dilijan. And Christians here have been celebrating Christ’s birth in this spot for over 1,000 years. This year’s celebration is a little subdued, and there’s a reason for that. CBN News talked to one of the priests here to find out why.
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SOURCE: CBN News, Chuck Holton