Little (Armenian) Christmas

One tradition I am happy to acquire since becoming Mrs. PhillyBoy is that of celebrating Christmas on January 6th. You may have heard it as “Little Christmas” (Wikipedia explanation here), but I call it “Armenian Christmas”.

The Armenian Church that we belong to celebrates Christmas with the Orthodox churches, and Easter with the others. They still have a big Christmas celebration on December 25th, but also have a separate one on January 6th. I grew up, however, with my family in Jordan celebrating Christmas with us, and Easter with the Orthodox church! My dad explained that in a country without a lot of Christians it was a way for them to all celebrate these Christian holidays on the same dates. Anyway, this is a new tradition to me and hopefully, if I have made any errors in explanations, one of my Armenian friends or relatives can correct me!

This year, since our family here has not yet seen our home, PB and I have decided to host Armenian Christmas. We will only be a group of 11, which we can easily host in our small but lovely condo. I (along with the help of some aunts, my dad, a cousin, and PB- thanks for the input guys!) have created a fun menu that will challenge me. The menu was difficult for me as I knew I absolutely wanted to make vegetarian stuffed grape leaves (aka siyami), but I didn’t know what would go well with them. I have helped make stuffed grape leaves with my cousins for years now, but I have never attempted to cook them off on my own. Also, last year’s Christmas roast was overcooked and I have been hesitant to try making one since then. I will finally face those challenges as our family comes over to break bread and share in what will hopefully be a nice family dinner at home.

The holiday falls on a Wednesday in the middle of two very busy weekends, so I have streamlined the menu to cover all bases without taking me all week or every night to prepare. After all, we have the half marathon in DisneyWorld to prepare for this weekend!!!


Little (Armenian) Christmas

Mixed nuts
Cheese and cracker tray (with some grapes, etc)

Siyami (vegetarian stuffed grape leaves)
Roast beef tenderloin
Spinach gratin
Salad with pomegranate, walnuts, Lucini Fig Balsamic Vinegar and extra virgin olive oil
Za’atar bread (made on baguettes)


Coffee & Tea service

Chocolate mousse



Grocery shopping

Clean house

Set table

Clean pomegranates

Prepare & roll grape leaves


Pick up roast, fresh baguettes

Prepare spinach gratin but do not cook off

Make the fresh whipped cream

Make the chocolate mousse

Cut the cheeses

Chill wine

Wednesday, 5 PM:

Bake spinach gratin

Wash and dry the berries

Cook the grape leaves

Bake the roast at 6 PM


Market Shopping List

          1 mixed nuts

          2 cheeses



          Grape leaves ingredients (white rice, tomatoes, parsley, regular salt, lemons, yogurt)

          1 4-5 lb roast tenderloin

          3 lbs frozen spinach

          2 large yellow onions

          2 cups milk



          2 types of lettuce

          2 pomegranates

          baguette & lavash


          4 cup heavy cream

          12 oz semisweet chocolates

          6 eggs

          Cream of tartar

          Chocolate for shaving

          Fun sparkling Italian water


21 responses to “Little (Armenian) Christmas

  1. I’m so glad someone else has heard of fig vinegar! I used it for most of my salads – that, or pear infused vinegar. They are SO good.

  2. What a fun tradition. You’re such a good menu planner!

  3. Are you keeping your tree up until then? Maybe I’ll say that’s what I’m celebrating since my tree is STILL up. πŸ˜‰

  4. I was raised Catholic and we called January 6th Three Kings Day! In fact that christmas party my Mom attends for the catholic diocese falls on three kings day every year and my granmother refuses to take her tree down until after three kings day πŸ™‚

  5. I also celebrate Christmas on Jan. 6th! Eastern Orthodox, woohoo!

  6. Menu looks great!!

  7. Oh fun! I love that it’s past the traditional Christmas season – the longer, the better πŸ™‚

  8. Your menu sounds delicious! I love fig vinegar!

  9. How interesting! I’ve never heard of Little Christmas. What a neat tradition!

  10. My mom wants to know why you don’t do seven fishes on Christmas eve. I explained that your dad is from Jordan, but still, she knows there is Italian there and is totally confused. πŸ™‚

  11. Yum! Half of my dad’s family was Eastern European, and we celebrated Little Christmas with a special dinner and one more gift. It was fun to have something to look forward to after Christmas and New Year’s were over. Enjoy!

  12. my family celebrates Three Kings Day on January 6th. I love learning about traditions in other cultures as well.

  13. Hi Sabrina,
    Glad to see you will be celebrating Armenian Christmas this year aka(Theophany, Epiphany, or little Christmas) . Maybe this will help you understand a little better about the Jan. 6th date. Armenians were the 1st Christians and at one time all Christians celebrated on January 6. By the end of the 3rd century in Rome, Christmas was celebrated on Dec. 25 to coincide with some pagan holiday. The Armenian church remained outside of the Roman Empires influence and to this day celebrates the birth and baptism of Christ on Jan. 6 Armenians follow the Julian calendar as opposed to the Gregorian/Western calendar. It is not to be confused with Three Kings Day which is something different. My family has always celebrated Christmas on both the 25th and the 6th. Here’s wishing you and your family a very merry Armenian Christmas!! PS. I love your blog

  14. Rhodey, the menu sounds spectacular! What a great bonus.

  15. How cool! I love this idea. Your parties always sound incredible- perfect spread of food. I was up in Philly this past weekend but only for like 32 hours otherwise I would have wanted to meet up! can’t wait to see the pics from the party

  16. I used to work with an Armenian girl and she explained Armenian Christmas to me…I think it is so great that you get to celebrate the holiday’s long after the rest of us are done!

    Your to do list looks amazingly long. I’m sure everything will turn out fabulous!

  17. Wow that looks like an awesome spread! I am new to your blog and love it so far! Can’t wait to keep reading πŸ™‚

  18. what a rich and fun tradition!

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