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No Mass for Christmas


My Armenian colleague was privately complaining to me last year no one in the office wished her a merry Christmas. I reminded her I had sent her a text message. She said she knew, but beside me no one else did that and it made her upset.

She is right. Christmas is ignored in Iran. Not because Iranians don't know what Christmas is, they know, but the truth is Christmas has never been widely celebrated over here. The main reason I think is during history Christmas has been a time for Christians to celebrate the time Jesus Christ came to this world, and Iranians have not been Christians. 

I know these days in the modern world Christmas has lost its religious meaning and it's mainly a holiday to relax, have fun and see your family. I also know the 25th of December is a holiday even in many non-Christian countries, and I should remind you the large number of Iranians are non-practising, but I think the main reason Iranians don't celebrate it goes back firstly to the religion, secondly to traditions, historically speaking. 

The minority Christians in Iran are Armenians. They are the descendants of those Armenians who fled Armenia when the Ottomon Empire started the massacre of Armenians and some of them rushed to Iran. They dispersed in many Iranian cities and built churches, the most famous of them the Vank Church. They celebrate Christmas among themselves or by going to their churches.

However, when it's around Christmas you can see many shops put a Christmas tree in their displays, and it's kind of cheerful. Iranian youth like Christmas. I saw some of them talking about it on their blogs and facebook pages. I personally love its hustle and bustle, Santa, presents, cards and all those lovely Christmas decorations. 

Yet it's a bit meaningless to wish an Iranian a merry Christmas, especially those who are in Iran and not abroad. I think Iranians overseas are accustomed to it, as other aspects of living abroad. But I've never seen any Iranian tell the other "Merry Christmas". When I see my International friends sending me Christmas ecards, I smile. It's just like a Jewish friend telling me "Happy Hannukah" or a Muslim friend telling you "Happy Fetr Eid"!

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