Armenian Pre-Christmas Tradition

Context: Due to the sharing of culture between European nations, many traditions and holidays share seemingly universal themes. For example, Christmas traditions in European countries often have themes in common such as generosity, kindness, and teaching respect to children, even if the details of the traditions are different. The same concept applies to the Armenian Christmas tradition. 

Note: This logic applies strictly to modern European and Western traditions.

Main Piece: Armenian Christmas takes place on the 6th of January, and informant GG explained that the time from New Years (Jan 1) to Christmas was celebrated with a particular tradition. For the first six days of the new year, you can visit anybody in town throughout the day, and “everybody is expected to both have and be company. They set out huge tables, and there’s always food on it because they know that at any moment people could show up!” In many Western countries, Christmas is a time when extended family and friends are invited to eat and give gifts for the whole day, but the Armenian tradition extends far beyond that! GG said that, despite the stress of it, “they all love it, [even though] the wives are a little stressed because they’re always cooking…” to keep fresh food on the table at all times for the whole day! At that, all of this is simply leading up to Christmas itself! 

Thoughts: I think that this tradition is a wonderful example of folklore that encourages and strengthens bonds between people! As GG said it, “It’s like a giant party for 6 days,” and I believe that the reason why it’s practiced is because it’s fun! Regardless of the expense, stress, or waste it might incur, the whole concept of expecting everyone to both be and serve guests seems like a beautiful tradition.