Christmas In The Iranian Plateau

Afshin Majlesi

On Line: 02 January 2012 16:31
In Print: Tuesday 03 January 2012

Detail showing religious celebrations of Christmas at the Vank
Cathedral, Isfahan Decorated Christmas trees might not be seen
in every corner of Iran these days, but joy and merriment reigns
supreme for the Christian population all over the country. This year,
the Iranian Christians once again celebrated the birth of Christ
in their homeland by decorating Christmas trees, exchanging gifts,
and attending services.

Predominantly a Muslim nation, Iran has a sizeable Christian population
including Assyrians, Armenians, Catholics, Protestants and Evangelical
Christians. Although a minority religious group in Iran, Christians of
Iran are free to practice their religion and perform their religious

Christmas in Iran is known as the “Little Feast” to the Assyrians
compared to the Easter which is called the Great Feast. For the first
25 days of December, a long fast is observed by the Assyrians. During
these days no meat, eggs, milk or cheese is eaten. It is a time of
peace and meditation, a time for attending services at the church.

After the church service of December 25, Iranian Christians enjoy
Christmas dinner which they call the “Little Feast.”

In fact, Christmas Eve is the last day of the fast. Almost before
dawn on Christmas Day, the people attend Mass to receive Communion
and it is not until they have received this Communion that they are
permitted to break their fast. The main dish for Christmas Day is a
kind of chicken barley stew called Harrissa. It is cooked in large
quantities and lasts for several days.

Nowadays Gifts are less exchanged, but children get new clothes which
they wear on Christmas Day. According to Dr. Ahmad Nourizadeh who
has done a lot of research on the history of Christians, particularly
Armenians in Iran, although Iranian Armenians who make up the majority
of the country’s Christian population take January 6th as the birth
of Christ, large numbers of Iranian Christians also celebrate the
25th of December along with other Christians in the world.

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