This comes from the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church (New York):
"Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, "Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him.' And lo, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy; and going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh." (Matthew 2:1-11, RSV)
How should we explain the celebration of Christmas on January 6 in the Armenian Church to our families and children?
Parents could explain to their children that even at the time of the Holy Apostles the traditions in the Christian churches in the different parts of the world were not uniform and that Christmas was probably not observed at all in the very early Church. Parents could add that by the end of the third century Christmas in Rome was held on December 25, which coincided with a major pagan feast, while in the Eastern churches it was observed on January 6. The Armenian Church has maintained that ancient tradition to this day, whereas the Greek-speaking Christian world switched to the Latin tradition at the end of the fourth century. Children should know that both traditions are old and must be respected, and that as good Christians they must focus on the spirit of the Nativity of the Savior and not the differences in traditions.
Is there a recommended way to celebrate Christmas on December 25 and January 6 in an Armenian household today?
Armenian-American households may exchange Christmas gifts on December 25, since it is the custom in American society to do so. In traditional Armenian circles gifts were exchanged on January 1, which is not a day of religious significance. Replacing that tradition with a gift exchange on December 25 is not a major deviation, since the January 1 is only a few hundred years old and is taken from the West. As in American society, Armenian families may have their reunions and dinners on December 25. In some of our churches in the United States it has become traditional to hold the feast of St. Stephen the Proto-martyr on Christmas Eve (December 24), though that feast is movable and may not always fall on December 24.
If possible, the faithful should fast during the seven-day period preceding January 6 and should inform their children that they are fasting as a way of preparation for Christmas. On the evening of January 5, families should attend church and participate in the celebration of the Christmas Eve Divine Liturgy. They should do the same thing on the morning of January 6 and observe that day as the Feast of the Theophany (the Manifestation of God). If they are prepared, they should receive Holy Communion either on January 5 or January 6. Our pastors will provide letters to explain to school authorities the absence of the Armenian children from school on January 6.