RNA - The Christian New Year has kicked off and celebrations are underway across the world, and Iran is no exception where there are at least 600 churches and over 300,000 Christians.
Just like every year, Armenian Christians in Tehran visit Churches, like Saint Sarkis Cathedral in a downtown district, to observe the festivity with prayers.
Most of the Christians in Iran are Armenians who follow the Oriental Orthodox branch of Christianity. Like many other Christians, they mark the New Year with family gatherings, among other traditions.
Christians and followers of other divine religions such as Judaism are recognized as official religious minorities in Iran, which is a predominantly Muslim nation. Religious minorities have their representatives in Iran’s parliament to protect their civil and religious rights.
Like other Christian communities, Iranian Armenians mark the New Year on January first, but they observe Christmas on January 6th, instead of December 25th. Still, they start celebrations along with their fellow Christians around the world.
Christians make up less than one percent of Iran’s population, but when it comes to the Christian New Year, the festive mood is felt everywhere, since these people feel at home with publicly celebrating the occasion.
On Tuesday, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani, in his congratulatory message on the advent of the New Year of the Gregorian calendar, voiced hope that world leaders manage to enthrone peace and security in all four corners of the universe in the year of 2020.
In separate messages to world leaders, Iran’s First Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri likewise extended his felicitations to his Christian counterparts and the people of their countries on the occasion of the New Year.
Jahangiri called on his counterparts to take steps towards the promotion of peace and kind-heartedness in the coming year through convergence and synergy.
He expressed hope that bilateral and international cooperation would be strengthened in all fields in the coming year through joint efforts.
On Sunday, Education Minister Mohsen Haji Mirzayee went to a high school of Armenian students in Tehran to participate in the ceremonies of New Year on the Gregorian calendar along with compatriot Christians.
According to Fars News Agency, Haji Mirzayee participated in a ceremony held by Christian students to congratulate them on the New Christian Year.
During the ceremony which was held in Aras High School, Haji Mirzayee appreciated efforts made by teachers and the principal of the school to hold the celebration ceremony.
On Saturday, he had sent a congratulatory message, extending greetings to all Iranian Christian students and teachers on the advent of the birth anniversary of the Jesus Christ (PBUH).
On Friday, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei in a message advised followers of the Jesus Christ together with Muslims to adhere to righteousness.
"The honor Muslims attribute to Jesus Christ (pbuh) is no less than his position and merit in the eyes of the Christian believers in Christianity," Supreme Leader wrote in his Twitter account.
"The guidance of Jesus, the son of Mary (peace be upon our Prophet and her) is guidance towards worshiping God and confronting the Pharaohs and tyrants," he said.
"Following Jesus Christ requires adherence to righteousness and abhorrence of anti-righteous powers, and it is hoped that Christians and Muslims in every part of the world will adhere to this great lesson from Jesus (pbuh) in their lives and deeds," he reiterated.