I know the title sounds weird; Christmas in Iran, an Islamic country! But if you have not been in Iran before, during the new year holidays, rest assured that there is nothing to worry about. There are thousands of Christians living in Iran and they do celebrate Christmas here. Of course, there are no huge parties and music on the street, but if you would like to be in a Christian atmosphere—or if you are just curious— you will ﬁnd the right people.
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Most Christians in Iran have ancestors from Armenia. They mostly have been residing in Tehran, Isfahan, Tabriz, Urmia, and Rasht. However, due to the recent mass emigration of Iranian-Armenians, their society has become smaller. Only in Tehran and Isfahan, you can see their neighborhoods still lively and populous.
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What do I do if I’m in Iran around Christmas
Go for a walk-in “Mirza-ye Shirazi” street and “Nejatollahi” street in the center of Tehran. The atmosphere is so Christmasy and there are many shops selling ornamental objects and you will see loads of people window-shopping (or even shopping) in there. That is the place to ﬁnd Christians if you would like to celebrate Christmas with them.
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Another highlight of the Armenian neighborhood in Tehran is Orient Cafe, located right next to the “Darvazeh Dowlat” metro station. The cafe dates back to 77 years ago and the decoration has been intact ever since. Orient is famous for its Armenian coﬀee, special sweets, and orange chocolate.
At last but not least, you might enjoy spending your Christmas Eve at St. Sarkis Church in Karimkhan street. St. Sarkis is the biggest church in Tehran and the head oﬃce of the Christians community in the city.
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The Armenian neighborhood “Jolfa” attracts many visitors all along the year for it’s the home to Vank Cathedral, gorgeous and unique work of Christian art in the Middle East. Vank in Isfahan is like St. Sarkis in Tehran; all the important events and feasts are held there.
The Armenians of Isfahan mostly live in Khaghani street and Hakim Nezami street. The stores are designed by western Christmas items and Santa Claus ﬁgurines. There is an Armenian club in Isfahan that celebrates Christmas in a private place. You will need to ﬁnd an Armenian to ask if you can join them for the celebration.
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