0635 GMT February 17, 2020
The auspicious occasion is an annual commemoration and a widely observed cultural holiday, celebrated generally on December 25 by billions of people around the world.
Western Christians first celebrated Christmas on December 25 in 336, after Emperor Constantine had declared Christianity the empire's favored religion. Eastern churches, however, held on to January 6 as the date for Christ's birth and his baptism. Most easterners eventually adopted December 25, celebrating Christ's birth on the earlier date and his baptism on the latter, but the Armenian church celebrates his birth on January 6. Incidentally, the Western church celebrates Epiphany on January 6, but as the arrival date of the Magi rather than as the date of Christ's baptism.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in a message to Pope Francis, the 266th and current Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, congratulated him as well as the Christian community on the birth anniversary of Jesus Christ (PBUH) and the beginning of the upcoming new year.
Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, in a message, congratulated the Christian community of Iran and the world on the occasion.
Larijani's message, which was addressed to all parliament speakers and members across the world, said the birth of Christ was the occasion for all nations following the teachings of Christ to work to restore to the world justice and friendship so dearly held in his message to the humanity.
This, he added, was badly needed in the world "to attain the ideals of Christ, I believe the dialogue of Abrahamic religions will play a great role. Parliaments, as representatives of their nations, would contribute to this".
Iran's Parliament welcomes any initiative to organize such a dialogue and would openly contribute to peace efforts across the globe," said Larijani in the message.
Meanwhile, Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Baqeri also congratulated his counterparts across the world on the birth anniversary of Jesus Christ (PBUH), the messenger of peace, justice and mercy, and the beginning of the new Christian year.
He hoped that peace, stability, and tranquility would prevail in the world by following the teachings of the great Prophet Jesus Christ.
Major General Baqeri further wished his counterparts in Christian countries health and prosperity.