Armenian Groups Bring Community Closer During Christmas Celebration

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By PRECIOSA DUMLAO | Photography by JAMES MACPHERSON

3:15 pm | January 8, 2013


A group of over 100 representing the sweeping diversity of the Pasadena community celebrated the traditional Armenian Christmas on January 6 in East Pasadena at an annual event hosted by the Armenian Community Coalition and the California American Armenian Democrats.

The celebration at Robin’s Restaurant attracted politicians Congresswoman Judy Chu, State Assemblymember Mike Gatto, Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard and Councilmember Jacque Robinson as well as a number of civic leaders and Armenian community members.

Organizer Chris Chahinian said, “This is the day (January 6) we celebrate Armenian Christmas. This is the day we bring the community together not just for Armenians but also for the entire community. The idea of bringing together the community is our way of celebrating Christmas.”

Fr. Sarkiz told the crowd that Christmas was originally celebrated every January 6, but was ultimately changed by church leaders to December 25 in the Middle Ages to coincide with an existing holiday celebrated by tribal groups in Western and Northern Europe.

Sarkiz echoed Chahinian’s statement that the Armenian Christmas celebration is about bringing together the community.

“We have people attending this event who are rivals in politics and other areas. But they can come together here as one. Some are even running against each other. But that doesn’t mean they cannot be in the same room and be respectful of each other and be thankful of each other’s company,” he said.

Congresswoman Judy Chu said that attending the celebration was her first official act as the Congressional Representative in the 27th Congressional District after being sworn in last Thursday in Washington, D.C.

Chu told the crowd she was impressed with the Armenian community, particularly with the level of activities that they contribute to the city.

“You are everywhere and I look forward to working together with you. I look forward to being a large part of this area. I love working with the Armenian community,” she said.

Mayor Bill Bogaard said that the event was an important opportunity to spend time with his Armenian friends and to greet them Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. He said that celebrating Christmas at the time of the epiphany as “comforting.”

“This is an important year,” Bogaard said and added, “2013 is a new year, a new beginning, and a new opportunity for us to come together and build the city of Pasadena as well as to work together with our elected officials.”

Bogaard also cited the importance of the March 5 election which he said is a good opportunity for the candidates and the whole community to ask and answer questions of what the community wants for Pasadena.

During the celebration, the Armenian Coalition presented former Assemblymember Anthony Portantino with a plaque of appreciation for his “many, many years of great service for the community.”

Chahinian said the award is a way for the Armenian Coalition to tell Portantino that “we want you back.”

Portantino said he was honored and surprised with the award and added he was happy to have represented Pasadena in the Assembly.

For his part, California American Armenian Democrats founding member Caro Avanessian enjoined all Armenians and their friends to get involved with the organization so they can work together for their common goal of serving the community.

For more information, visit the Armenian Community Coalition at  http://www.acc-us.org/