How I Cloned Christmas

26/12/2014 13:21 GMT | Updated 24/02/2015 10:59 GMT

Being Armenian-British has certain privileges. In fact, the Christmas period is the most rewarding for many easterners living in the west. By easterners I mean those from countries that are traditionally Orthodox Christian. You see, we effectively do Christmas celebrations twice.

In Orthodox Christian countries such as, say, Armenia, Montenegro or Russia, Christmas day falls on January 6th or 7th (depending on the country). These use the old Julian calendar to mark the feast day, in contrast to the modern Gregorian calendar. Therefore, December 25th on the Julian calendar corresponds to January 6th on the Gregorian calendar. However, Christmas Day in many of these nations, and I can specifically vouch for Armenia, is a purely religious holiday. It dispenses of all gift-giving, flying reindeer, massive red Coca-Cola trucks etc. etc. For this reason, being a secular family as most nowadays are, we do not celebrate it - a few moments of quiet reflection is sufficient for my parents.

Christmas in the West is without doubt a secular, cultural holiday. Although we still love warm, familiar carols from the glorious days of the Christendom and, despite being an atheist, I am always mindful of the Christian roots of this holiday, most never venture further than this. Christmas is effectively a pagan holiday - we're welcoming winter, embodied by a big fat bloke in a saucy red velvet onesie. And here is the interesting contrast between East and West. Whereas Christmas in the West has been endowed with both religious and secular properties, to the celebrator's choosing, the two celebrations are completely distinct in the East. The religious observation of the birth of the late Messiah falls on January 6th/7th. The secular, winter-welcoming debauch falls on New Year's Eve. Yup, very odd to hear, I know.

New Year's Eve is when many Eastern cultures celebrate analogously to the West. I'm talking turkey, elm tree, gifts, Father Christmas - in short, the works. Being the gluttonous pig that I am, I make sure my family takes advantage of this potential treasure trove. We do Christmas on the 25th like the Brits that we are. Then, on New Year's Eve, our inner Armenian takes over and the festivities start all over again. It's like a gastro-celebratory Groundhog Day: second turkey, second bottle of brandy, second heart attack. Great fun but by New Year's Day I feel like Adam Richmond after an unsuccessful challenge on Man Vs. Food.