According to the Armenian Apostolic Church the week preceding the Feast, December 30-January 5, is fasting period and people eat food of exceptionally vegetable origin.
The period of fast comes to end in the evening of January 5 when a candlelight Divine Liturgy is celebrated and the great tiding of Jesus’ birth is proclaimed to the faithful. People greet each other saying, "Qristos tsnav yev haytnetsav. Mez yev dzez mets avetis", which means “Christ is Born and Revealed! Blessed is the Revelation of Christ.”
What is Candlelight Divine Liturgy?
It is interesting that the celebration of the Feast of the Holy Nativity and Theophany of Our Lord Jesus Christ starts on the evening of January 5 as the church day changes at 17:00 p.m., after the evening service. So the celebration of the feast starts in the evening of January 5 and is continued on January 6.
In the evening of January 5 candlelight Divine Liturgy is celebrated in all Armenian churches.
In the evening of that day people take to their homes candles lit in the church symbolizing the divine light and the blessing of the Church. Lighting candles symbolizes also the light of Bethlehem star leading the magi from the east to the Baby Jesus.
After lighting the candles at home (brought from the church) the second part of the Feast begins.
After 18:00 Armenians cook traditional meals for this day. The essential parts of today's table are "Chamichov plav", "Dzuk" and Armenian wine.Chamichov plav is rice with dried fruites. Armenians usually add dried dark grapes to rice and 12 dried fruites (dried plumes on the photo). 12 dried fruites symbolize the 12 apostles and the rice symbolizes the people.
Dzuk is "fish" in Armenian. Usually it's one of the most famous Armenian fishes-ishkhan.Wine also has an important meaning. The Armenian red wine is especially popular this day. It symbolizes the blood of Jesus Christ.
Jaunury 5, 2010, Traditional meals after Candlelight Divine Liturgy
On January 6, following the Divine Liturgy, the Armenian Church also offers a special Blessing of the Waters Service to celebrate the Baptism of Christ in the River Jordan. The wonder-working water blessed by means of cross and Holy Chrism is distributed to the faithful for spiritual and bodily healing.
January 6, 2010, The Catholicos of All Armenians, Garegin B, blesses the water at the Mother See of Holy Ejmiatsin, ArmeniaJanuary 7, as well as all the days following the major church feasts are memorial days (or days of Remembrance of the dead). On January 7 (and all memorial days) a special Repose of Souls Service is offered in memory of the dead after which people go the graveyards to pay visit to their relatives’ tombs.
The ceremonies related to the Feast of the Holy Nativity and Theophany of Our Lord Jesus Christ are concluded on January 13, the Feast of Naming of Our Lord Jesus Christ.