The Armenian Church never changed the date of the holiday and continues to celebrate the birth of Jesus on Jan. 6, he said.
The celebration of the birth of Jesus began Monday night, when the church held a two-hour ceremony in preparation for Tuesday, Garibjanyan said.
“It’s a big holiday for us,” he said.
The holiday also celebrates Jesus’ revelations and his influence on the church, said Deacon Matthew Ash of Burbank’s Armenian Church of the Western Diocese.
“The most important part of celebrating this holiday is really to be able to attend church,” Ash said. “It’s a day to remember the bonds of family and fellowship.”
Instead of opening presents on Dec. 25, Vika Guloyan, 16, exchanges gifts with her family and friends on New Year’s Day and honor Jesus’ birth on Jan. 6 by going to church.
“We are Christians, and it’s important to us,” she said. “We get to spend time with our families.”
After attending church, Vika and other Armenian-American families generally gather together for a large feast of fish, rice and Armenian sweet bread, she said.
No other meat is eaten on the holiday, and wine is typically consumed and represents the blood of Christ.
Congregant Kamen Movsisyan celebrated the holiday with friends because most of his family is in Armenia, and he has been in the United States for only a year, he said. Movsisyan attended Tuesday’s Mass and went to a friend’s house to eat fish and bread.
“I feel really good,” he said. “I love God. I feel God inside me.”
After church, Glendale resident Carmen Ovanesian visited her family and ate vegetable quiche with them.
For Ovanesian, the holiday marks a day in which she shows respect to her elders.
“This is a family day,” she said.
VERONICA ROCHA covers public safety and the courts. She may be reached at (818) 637-3232 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.