It was the 29th of December. For her vacation, Sarah was on an Iran tour. She had a good time by then. Fascinating Iran destinations and sites have delighted her. Yet, the highly interesting thing to Sarah was all the Christmas accessories sold here and there, especially in cities. She was surprised since Iran is known as a Muslim country. So, why do Iranians celebrate Christmas?
The Official Occasions in Iran
The main calendar in Iran is based on the solar year. It starts from the beginning of Spring which is April 21st. The Iranian New Year, Nowruz is celebrated on this day. Many other Iran festivals are according to this calendar. The Rosewater Festival, Yalda Night, and Chaharshanbe Suri celebrations are some of them. The other official calendar is the lunar one. It does not have an administrative function. Rather, the religious occasions are based on this calendar. They include important dates like the beginning of Ramadan, the commemoration of Muharram, or other Islamic celebrations. This calendar is not a fixed one due to its being lunar. Most of these events are holidays in Iran. They either root from an ancient Iranian ritual or an Islamic one.
Christianity in Iran
The Georgian calendar or Christianity occasions are not among the official ones in Iran. But this does not mean we do not care about them.
First of all, the population of Christians in Iran is estimated at 1500,000. Armenians constitute about 90% of this religious group. They had a forged bond with the Iranians from about 1000 years ago. With 6000 churches all over the country, they are standing in the second place, regarding the religious adherents. The oldest church in the world is in the northwest of Iran. The monastery of Saint Thaddeus is one of Iran’s UNESCO World Heritage sites.
In many great cities of Iran, there are Christian neighborhoods. Some of these locations date back centuries ago. The most famous one is Jolfa in the heart of Isfahan. The immigrant Armenians built this neighborhood 700 years ago during Safavid Dynasty. It was named after the Jolfa region in Armenia. There is this famous church, Vank cathedral in the location from the 17th century. Thus, although Iran is a Muslim country, it is not strange to see Christian scenes during their New Year celebration.
Christmas in Iran
The Christians in Iran mostly follow the Armenia Church Orthodox. They celebrate the New Year on January 6th. The religious aspect of Christmas is prevailing among Iranian Christians. So, people attend the churches and then families gather around for the feast. It is mainly Sabzi Polo Mahi. This is the most favorite Iranian food for the celebrations. It consists of roasted fish and rice cooked with aromatic herbs.
The decorated pine trees and colorful ornaments are common here as well. Santa Clause is not rooted in Iranian Christian culture. Yet, influenced by the worldwide vibes, you can see this old man’s statues and dolls as part of the Christmas decorations.
Non-Christian Iranians attitudes towards Christmas
Christmas is involved with the birth of Jesus Christ. He is honored in our religious society and background. Hence, celebrating Christmas in Iran is not only forbidden but also a way of showing our respect. Muslims send to attend these festivals. Many of them are friends or neighbors with the Christians. They find it exciting to join the exciting vibes of Christmas. Moreover, it is a reason to take part in joy and cheers along with the rest of the world.
Is There Any Christmas Tour?
Iran tour packages mainly focus on the authentic and cultural features of Iran. Iran historical places are among the most favorable destinations in the world. Iran cultural tours take you deep down the well-known and also less-known things that would satisfy any visitor. Yet, if you would like to experience a Christmas holiday among Iranian Christians you can consult your Iran tour operator. It is possible to fix your tour timing for the beginning of January. Or, think of an Iran tailor-made tour. Through this package, you can design the time, Iran destinations, and the visiting sites as you wish.