Oldest Christian Nation War-Stricken, Yet Hope Remains
A nearly 30-year unresolved territorial dispute over the small, mountainous region of Nagorno-Karabakh, located in Eurasia, erupted into war on Sept. 27, 2020, between Azerbaijan and the self-proclaimed Republic of Artsakh with Armenia. Though internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh was partially governed by Artsakh, a breakaway state with an Armenian ethnic majority.
Armenia adopted Christianity as its official state religion in A.D. 301, making it the first state in the world to do so. Armenians celebrate Christmas during Epiphany, Jan. 6, a day that commemorates the revelation of Jesus as God's Son, especially to the magi. For the Armenian Apostolic Church, it is also a day to celebrate the water baptism of Jesus that marked the beginning of His adult ministry.
A ceasefire agreement was signed on Nov. 9 by the president of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev; prime minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, and president of Russia, Vladimir Putin. Arayik Harutyunyan, the president of Artsakh, also agreed to the ceasefire. Turkey-supported Azerbaijan claimed victory.
On Dec. 3, a reported 2,425 Armenian soldiers were confirmed dead, with 2,783 dead and 100 missing in action from Azerbaijan. At least 143 civilians were killed in the conflict, with tens of thousands of residents displaced from their homes.
On Christmas Eve, Jan. 5, candles are lit in homes and churches to illuminate the end of dark days and long nights.