With the arrival of the joyful Christmas season, Iranian Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ in the same way. What is Christmas like in Iran?
Iran is where the Three Wise men are believed to have lived when Jesus was born. Today Iranian Christians start the “Little Fast” in December, during which they abstain from eating animal products. And the “Big Fast” occurs during Lent, six weeks before Easter.
The Christian population in Iran is less than 1%, consisting of Armenians, Assyrians, Catholics, Protestants, and Evangelical Christians. Armenian Christians celebrate Christmas on the same day as Epiphany on January 6, while the rest celebrate this day on December 25. The celebration takes place in the church and at home. After Church service, everyone enjoys the Christmas dinner, which they call “Little Feast.”
Christians of Iran are not familiar with Santa Claus, so gifts are not generally exchanged, but children get new clothes that they wear proudly on Christmas Day.
When the cheerful spirit of the season comes around, it hits every soul despite their beliefs or religions. Christmas decorations take place throughout the country, specifically in major cities such as Tehran, Isfahan, Shiraz, Tabriz, and even religious cities such as Mashhad.
Decorated Christmas trees, decorations, and gifts are all over the stores, which are very popular among the young generation of Iranian Muslims.
Christmas celebration in Tehran
Iranian Christians hold Christmas parties that sometimes might involve a high entrance fee. Ararat Club in Tehran is one of these centers holding special Christmas parties each year. There is also a Charity Bazaar with a wide variety of delicious food and live performances that visitors can enjoy. Armenian families often prepare “Kukupolo” for dinner on Christmas night. Then they go to the churchyard to meet friends and families. Priests pray in the light of the candles in the church. The church bell rings right at midnight while everyone stops chatting, looking at the sky, and praying at this particular moment.
Christmas celebration in Isfahan
The Christmas atmosphere is fascinating in the Jolfa district of Isfahan in Iran since this is where the Armenian emigrants live. All through the Jolfa district is decorated with string lights and ornamented pine trees, and there is a special ceremony at Vank Cathedral, the most significant Armenian church in Iran. The shops are crowded, and people are busy shopping, walking around, and taking photos. Walking through Jolfa is exceptionally fascinating for those interested in cross-cultural differences.
The minority religions in Iran, Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians, are officially recognized and are represented in parliament and can enjoy the freedom of practicing their religion and performing their religious rituals.
Jesus Christ is recognized as one of the holy messengers by Muslims. According to Iranian authorities, the day of his birth is recognized. They send out messages on this occasion to Christians in Iran and all over the world.
Peace on Earth,
Good Will to All!
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!