Glendale hospitals and local religious leaders celebrate Armenian Christmas

This week, two Glendale hospitals collaborated with local religious leaders to again celebrate Armenian Christmas with two separate ceremonies.

Glendale Adventist Medical Center and Dignity Health Glendale Memorial Hospital were able to honor the large area Armenian community at their respective Christmas ceremonies with the help of local Armenian churches.

Hospital employees, medical staff, hospital executives, city officials and the public attended the blessings this week ahead of Armenian Christmas, which falls on Jan. 6 every year.

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Glendale Adventist Medical Center is a faith-based hospital and has been hosting a celebration for almost a decade. Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, leader of the Western Diocese Armenian Church, led the ceremony with prayers and a blessing of water, meant to symbolize the baptism of Jesus Christ.

"This is also a very special time to thank ... Glendale Adventist — the administration, the doctors, the staff members and all of the family here because together you bring joy in the hearts of the people," Derderian said.

Before the end of the ceremony, Glendale Mayor Paula Devine called the celebration a symbol of hope. Also, Raffi Tachdjian, president of the Armenian Medical Society, donated $5,000 to the hospital.

"Our message is unity and serving in our community and bringing Christmas to them," said Ramella Markarian, vice president of business development at Glendale Adventist. "Many of them are working on the 6th and can't attend church ceremonies."

At a similar event, Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, prelate of the western United States, and members of his clergy led a ceremony on Thursday at Dignity Health Glendale Memorial Hospital, where blessings were read in both Armenian and English.

Following the ceremony, Mardirossian and clergy visited the hospital room of Tigran and Anahit Simonyan, the parents of Aram Simonyan, who was born on Wednesday afternoon. There they gave a traditional blessing of health and prosperity to a sleepy Aram.

The Armenian Orthodox Church maintains an old tradition of celebrating Christmas on Jan. 6, which is 12 days after the Dec. 25 date other denominations connect with the religious holiday.

The January date is referred to as the Epiphany or the Holy Nativity of Christ.

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Jeff Landa, jeff.landa@latimes.com

Twitter: @JeffLanda

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