Tehran, 25 December 2006 (CHN) --
Decorated Christmas trees might not be seen in every corner of Iran these days,
but the occasion is celebrated by Iranian Christians every year. This year, the
Iranian Christians have once again prepared themselves to celebrate the birth of
Christ in their homeland by decorating Christmas trees, exchanging gifts, and
According to Albert Kochoei, chairman of Assyrian
Association of Tehran or Motva d’ Tehran, considering that Jesus Christ was the
messenger of peace and love, this year Iranian Christians will pray for the
peace and happiness to prevail in the world.
A number of Christian denominations still live in
Iran today and include 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
Christianity arrived in Iran during the Parthian
dynastic period (248 BC- 224 AD). Parthian kings showed great tolerance toward
other religions and Christianity gradually spread in various parts of the
The celebration of Christmas on the 25th
of December is said to have originated in ancient Persia and Mithraism and has
its roots in the Mithraist festival of Yalda, the celebration of the birth of
Sun God, Mithra, on the eve of the first day of the winter which falls on
21st of December.
Over the centuries Mithraism spread to Greece and
Ancient Rome via Asia Minor, gaining popularity within the ranks of the Roman
army. In the 4th century AD as a result of errors made in calculating leap years
and dates, the birthday of Mithra was transferred to 25th of
December. Until then, Christ’s birthday had been celebrated on January
6th by all branches of the Christian Church. However, with the cult
of Mithra still popular in Roman Europe, the Christian Church adopted many of
the Mithraic rituals and proclaimed 25th of December as the official
birthday of Christ. Today the Armenian and Eastern Orthodox Churches continue to
celebrate January 6th, as Christ’s birthday.
“Except for Armenian Christians, other Christian
groups in Iran celebrate 25th of December as the birthday of Jesus.
Holding mass prayers is another ritual that is performed on Christmas Eve in
most Iranian churches,” said Kochoei.
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.
Sending an open message to the Christians of the
world on the eve of the auspicious occasion of Christmas, Iranian President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad congratulated them on the birthday of “messenger of love and
Also to mark the arrival of the Christian New Year,
different programs are organized to be held in the museum of Tehran’s Sa’ad Abad
Palace from 2-4 of January 2007.