Traditional Christmas Greeting: "Shenoraavor Nor Dari yew Pari Gaghand"
Location: Asia Minor
Tree Type: Traditional
Preparations: In the Armenian tradition, preparations for Christmas begin weeks in advance. Families start by cleaning their houses from top to bottom in anticipation of the local priest who visits each home to bless it with salt and water. Seeds of lentils, chickpeas, or wheat are placed on cotton balls and allowed to sprout so that families are reminded of the rebirth of life that comes in the spring.
As Christians in Armenia don't eat any animal foods during the week that leads up to Christmas, foods like braided bread, rice pilaf, fresh vegetables, rice pudding, figs, baklava, and anoushabour, a pudding made from wheat, berries and apricots, have become traditional for the holiday season.
Decorations: Food plays a large role in Armenian Christmas trees and ornamentation. Fruits are often hung on trees along with the white doves that symbolize peace and golden bows for decoration. Ribbons in the three colors of the Armenian flag also garland the Christmas tree; red for the blood that has been shed for the country, orange for the rich land, and blue for the sky that watches over it.
During the holiday season, most homes feature a nativity scene or crèche. Children hang handkerchiefs from their roofs in the hopes that they will be filled with fried wheat, raisins, and coins. Children sing carols to passersby from the rooftops, chanting, "Rejoice and be glad! Open your bag and fill our handkerchiefs. Hallelujah, Hallelujah!" On New Years Eve their wishes are fulfilled when Gah-ghant Baba, the Old Father, visits them to distribute gifts.