Each year, on January 6, the Armenian Apostolic Church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Nativity and Theophany of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which is the commemoration of the Birth and Baptism of Jesus Christ. God was incarnated and appeared to the people. During the Baptism of Jesus, God the Father said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” (Mt 3:17) and the Holy Spirit descended on Christ in the form of a dove, so God appeared to the people for the second time. So, both Theophanies revealed by means of the Birth and Baptism of Jesus Christ are celebrated in the Armenian Church jointly on January 6. The feast starts on the eve, in the evening of January 5, and is continued after midnight. On the eve, a solemn Candlelight Divine Liturgy is celebrated and on January 6 a solemn Divine Liturgy is celebrated.
At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, the mystery of our Lord’s Baptism in the River Jordan, at the commencement of His ministry, is remembered in the ceremony of the Churorhnek, or the “Blessing of Water.”
The Celebrant priest pours three drops of Holy Muron into water, signifying the Holy Trinity. The Holy Muron is poured into the water from a dove shaped container, symbolising the appearance at the baptism of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove and the voice of the Father proclaiming to all that Jesus is His Son.
The cross, which has been submerged in the water, is then taken out. Traditionally a layperson is selected for this special privilege of holding the Cross. He is known as the “Godfather of the Cross” as he holds the Cross upright after it is taken out of the blessed water and welcomes the faithful to kiss the Cross as they receive the blessed water.
According to tradition, people take some blessed water with them to use it as a medicinal remedy for the sick. After the Blessing of the Waters Service the priests visit the houses of the faithful to proclaim the Christmastide Good News of the Birth of Jesus Christ.
The Gospel describes the birth of Jesus as follows: “In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. … And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Lk 2:1-7)
The Son of God was born in poverty, in a manger. The witnesses of His Birth were the shepherds living out in the fields nearby, whom the angels had appeared and brought the good news of the Birth of the Savior singing: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” (Lk 2:18)
Soon afterwards some men who studied the stars came from the East and worshipped Baby Christ, presented him with gifts and returned to their countries.
During Holy Mass the faithful greet each other, conveying the great tiding: “Kristos Dznav yev Haydnetsav” (Christ is Born and Revealed) and receive the reply “Tsezi Mezi Medz Avedis” (To you and us the Good News).