Heritage Newspapers
Jan 1 2012

Armenian Orthodox families mark Christmas celebration Jan. 6
Published: Sunday, January 01, 2012

John Zadikian
Journal Register News Service

Many Armenian traditions at this time of year are similar to those of
other Christian denominations.

Trappings of red, green and gold adorn homes and religious buildings,
where hymns are sung and worshipers recognize each other with seasonal
greetings of peace and joy.

At St. Sarkis Armenian Apostolic Church in Dearborn, members and their
families gathered Dec. 25 for a celebration of the Divine Liturgy led
by the Rev. Daron Stepanian. St. Sarkis, located on Ford Road, is one
of the churches of the Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of

Until the 4th Century, Christians worldwide celebrated Christ's birth
Jan. 6. The Roman Catholic Church changed the birthdate to Dec. 25 to
override a pagan festival dedicated to the birth of the sun. The
Armenian Church and several others under the Eastern Orthodox umbrella
still celebrate the birth and the baptism on the Jan. 6, Stepanian

"Armenian Christmas," he said, "is a culmination of celebrations of
events related to Christ's incarnation, which is the central theme of
the Christmas season in the Armenian Church. When we wish someone a
'Merry Christmas' in Armenian, we're actually saying that 'Christ is
born and revealed, and blessed is Christ's revelation.'"

Stepanian will celebrate Christmas Eve at St. Sarkis Jan. 5 with an
evening service, scroll reading and Divine Liturgy starting at 6:30
p.m. Activities on Christmas Day, Jan. 6, include church services
beginning at 10 a.m., a water blessing commemorating Christ's baptism,
and a Christmas program at 1 p.m.

The leader of the St. Sarkis flock will return home later in the day
to enjoy a holiday meal with his family.

Like the Armenians, many local Greeks will also gather in churches
around the area for services Jan. 6.

In their houses of worship, parishioners such as Dearborn Heights
native James Linaras will mark the Epiphany, also known as Theophany,
or the revelation of God to mankind in human form in the person of his
son, Jesus Christ.

"As Christians, we always celebrate the birth of Christ with family
gatherings and gift exchanges on Dec. 25," said Linaras, a Detroiter
whose parents still reside in his childhood home. "In the Greek
church, we refer to Jan. 6 as 'the Feast of the Epiphany,' which,
translated from Greek, means 'manifestation' or 'striking appearance.'
It is one of the great feasts of the liturgical year in our church."