Source: Custody of the Holy Land
The Christmas festivities in the Holy Land are very long in duration, because of the differences between the Julian and Gregorian calendars, and because of a different theological vision, as is the case with the Armenians. When the Catholics celebrate the Epiphany of the Lord, the Orthodox Churches (Greeks, Syrians, Copts, Ethiopians, etc.) begin their Christmas celebrations. On 19th January, which is the feast of the Epiphany for the Orthodox Churches, the Armenian Church celebrates Christmas day and Epiphany together as one feast.
The religious communities of Jerusalem and the other sanctuaries of the Holy Land have the tradition of exchanging the Christmas and New Year greetings. That is why on 21st January, Fr. Artemio Vítores, the Custodial Vicar, and a good number of friars, went to reciprocate the Christmas greetings to His Beatitude the Patriarch Torkom Manoogian and the Armenian community. The Armenians had come to the Franciscan friary of Saint Saviour to give their Christmas greetings on 27th December 2004. The Custodial Vicar expressed the joy of the Franciscans in keeping this fraternal tradition and, together with his greetings for the New Year, he expressed satisfaction at the good relations which have always existed between the Armenian community and the Franciscans of the Holy Land Custody. The Patriarch also showed his appreciation in his answer. After the traditional sweets and coffee, all the participants stood for a commemorative photo of this fraternal gathering. The Patriarch gave each friar the gift of the Lords Prayer in Armenian.
The meeting marks the end of the greetings for the Christmas season and falls in the beginning of the week of prayer for the Unity of Christians which, here in Jerusalem, begins on 19th January. The journey towards unity is also seen in these visits between the sister Churches of Jerusalem, in such a way that they come to know each other better and grow in their mutual sense of respect and collaboration.