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Teen Talk: Don’t pack up that tree; Christmas is in January

It’s Christmas...again!

Before you ask, “What is she talking about? Christmas is over,” let me explain with a little bit of history, which I like to think would be interesting to all people since it is about celebration and social evolution.

When the church first started celebrating Christmas it was on Jan. 6, which was an occasion to remember many events in Jesus’ life — his birth, the visit of the wise men, his baptism, his first miracle, etc.

But in the early centuries of this era, there was a big celebration that took place in Rome on Dec. 25. It had to do with the winter solstice and was sort of a birthday party for the sun. If you can imagine the excitement of New Year’s Eve, it was something like that.

Well, the church leadership in Rome thought it might be best to get Christians thinking on more spiritual lines on that day, so they shifted “Christmas” to Dec. 25. While the birth of Jesus was celebrated on the 25th, other events were still left to be remembered on the 6th, such as the wise men’s visit, now called Epiphany in most Christian churches.

If you count the days between the 25th and the 6th, there are 12, and that is from where we get “the 12 days of Christmas.” This period of time was a special one of celebrating and visiting. (Interesting note: Shakespeare’s play “Twelfth Night” refers to the last of these 12 days.) This new date eventually spread all over and became universal — almost.

The Armenian Church (and I’m Armenian-American) was outside the Roman Empire and had no other traditions to compete with its holidays. So Armenians kept celebrating Christmas on Jan. 6. They still do. From what I understand, we’re the only church that still celebrates on this original historical day.

Some Armenians might be very pleased with this because they think it is more authentic to stick with the earliest dates and decisions. But there is a better reason to be pleased. With all the commercialism and craziness surrounding Christmas (and is it me, but even in my own short lifetime, hasn’t it gotten worse?) and then New Year’s, it seems like Jan. 6 gives us a chance to settle down and enjoy the real Christmas. And that’s not about tons of gifts and trips to the mall but about peace, love and hope for Christians and non-Christians alike. So Merry Christmas — again.

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