With the help of local religious leaders, two Glendale hospitals held ceremonies Friday to help the large Armenian community in the city celebrate Armenian Christmas, which falls on Jan. 6 each year.
At Dignity Health Glendale Memorial Hospital, Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, prelate of the western United States, and members of his clergy led a ceremony with prayers at 11 a.m. in both English and Armenian.
"The start of the new year presents a wonderful opportunity for mankind and will be patient for renewal," Mardirossian said. "The new year brings this opportunity for renewal, however, [it] comes from God."
Hospital staff, employees and executives were joined by local leaders such as Glendale Mayor Vartan Gharpetian, Fire Chief Greg Fish and state Sen. Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge), who spoke briefly before the ceremony.
"As a Roman Catholic, representing an Armenian community, I love celebrating Christmas twice," he said. "It's an honor to represent such a vibrant and spiritual community."
Faith-based hospital Adventist Health Glendale held a similar Armenian Christmas ceremony at noon led by Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, leader of the Western Diocese Armenian Church.
Derderian said prayers and blessed water and the Armenian pastry called Gata as a symbol of the baptism of Jesus Christ.
"There are millions of interpretations about our thoughts and feelings [of Christmas], but one statement in which I will leave with you: Christmas is the time where we lead our lives to holiness," he said.
Council members Paula Devine and Vrej Agajanian as well as Mayor Gharpetian also joined the Adventist ceremony.
In keeping with tradition, the Armenian Orthodox Church maintains Christmas on Jan. 6, which is 12 days after the Dec. 25 date many other denominations observe the religious holiday.
Armenian Christmas is also referred to as the Epiphany or the Holy Nativity of Christ.