Today, I was jokingly called a traitor tomato.gif . My betrayal was attending two Armenian Christmas services at the same time. I know this does not make sense, but be patient and read. Armenians, who are generally labeled as family and church oriented, have two churches: both of them Apostolic (eastern Orthodox) indeed.

The first church is the Holy See of the Armenian Apostolic Church (based in Echmaidzin, Armenia). The next one is the Cilicia Armenian Apostolic Church (now based in Antilias, Lebanon). The Catholicos (Patriarch) of All Armenians is the head of the Echmiadzin church: the Catholicos of Cilicia is the head of Antilias (after the Genocide, the See of Cilicia moved to Lebanon from Armenian Cilicia in Turkey). Both of them are the same, and they all started with Echmiadzin becoming the Holy See in 301AD. But due to political reasons (Armenia being destroyed by invaders and the See moving to different places), we happened to have two heads of our church. I don't know the exact history (and both sides have different arguments), but the division was deepened after Soviet Union was established, and an Armenian nationalist party in the Diaspora, called Dashnaktsutiun, wanted to have more control in the Diaspora, and the See of Cilicia established prellacies in the United States (though there was already the Diocese- belonging to Echmiadzin). This is very confusing; so if you don't get it, don't feel bad. In short, Armenian Church is divided.

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Photo: Armenian Christmas (Holy Birth) Service at a rented church. 8 January 2006 (this was the first service)

So I live now in this American state in the Midwest, which has about 2000 Armenians. Less than 5%, indeed, attends the Church services (the priests come over from California, because we do not have our own). As every other traditional Armenian diasporan community, we have two services in our state (we rent out churches for the service). I always go to every service we have, despite the church it holds. This does not happen every other week. Sometimes it is only once in two or more months. I guess the competition makes both of the churches to hold services; so I guess division has a positive side too.

So today we had Christmas service; in two different churches at the same time. We went to the one we got the first invitation from (first come, first serve). The next one only let us know about the service yesterday, and when I angrily asked why could not they have scheduled another day since there was already an Armenian church service, I was told that the airline tickets for the priest (coming from California) had been bought 3 weeks before.

After we received communion in the first church, my Mom and I left for the next church (we really wanted to see our friends at the "other church" as well). Of course, some of the organizers in the first church were not happy protest.gif , neither the ones in the next one. But who cares. If they want to have two different services at the same time, I guess I have to go to both of them.

We really had nice time at the second one (when we went, the service was over). We joked a lot, and we "married" a couple. I was the tamada brows.gif (the toast master). Oh, in the first one, during the service, the fire alarm turned on, so it was quite noisy for a while.

OK. If you think this story was interesting, leave here a comment, so that I know whether I should post things like this. biggrin.gif

P.S. If you were wondering why the hell Armenians would have Christmas service on 8 January 2006… Since 301AD, Armenians have been celebrating the Christmas on 6 January. It is said that the rest of the world did the same, until in the late 4th century the Greeks switched the date to a Pagan celebration, on 25 December, to gain more popularity.