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7 of the Unique Armenian Traditions

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1.  February 13 – Trndez

Trndez is a holiday with pagan origin and was originally dedicated to Mihr or Tyr, the gods of fire and knowledge, respectively. It was connected with sun/fire worship in ancient pre-Christian Armenia, symbolizing the coming of the spring and fertility.
Traditionally, Armenians make a bonfire, go around it and jump over the fire on the evening of February 13 or early on February 14. This is a joyful holiday in all provinces and villages of Armenia, as well as in capital Yerevan, celebrated by young adults, newly-weds and all families in general.

Trndez

Trndez

2. February – St. Sargis Holiday

While the whole world celebrates St Valentines day, Armenians have their own holiday called St Sargis, which is celebrated 63 days before the Easter, on a Saturday between the January 18 and February 23. On the morning of the holiday the saint liturgy takes place in all the churches that are named St. Sargis where the ceremony of blessing the youth takes place as well.
This is the beloved holiday of young unmarried boys or girls. The process of the holiday is the following: on the eve of February 14th young people eat specifically prepared salty bread and restrain themselves of drinking water. At the night they should see a guy or girl bringing them water in their dreams, who is believed to be their future husband or wife. Although St. Sargis is said to visit the dreams of both sexes, the tradition is more popular among girls and women.
According to another tradition it is accepted to put a tray with flour or porridge made from fried flour in the balcony or on the roof of the house waiting for Saint Sargis to come on his white horse and leave the trace of horse-shoe. The person whose tray will have the trace of the horse-shoe, is believed to be lucky on that year and his/her cherished dream will come true in the same year.

St Sargis Holiday

St Sargis Holiday

3.  April 1 – Palm Sunday Tsaghkazard

Armenian Church celebrates Palm Sunday or Tsaghkazard on the previous Sunday of Holy Resurrection, which symbolizes Jesus Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
People accepted Jesus’es entry with enthusiasm, laying their clothes on the road with olive and palm branches and cheerful shouting. Laying the clothes for Jesus Christ symbolized confessing the sins committed toward him. Trees and branches symbolized special honors and acceptance among people. Olive perceived wisdom, peace, victory and glory.
In the morning of Palm Sunday church blesses the olive and willow trees and divides people. Willow twigs are fruitless and symbolize the pagans who became fertile only after accepting Jesus Christ. Softness of the twigs symbolizes humility of Christ’s followers.

Tsadhkazard

Tsaghkazard

4. April – Easter

The Armenian Church calls the final week of Christ’s life on earth Great Week or Holy Week. Holy Sunday is also called Easter Sunday expresses the joy of the Resurrection and the promise of salvation for all humanity. Armenian Christians around the world exchange the Easter greeting: Christ is risen from the dead! Blessed is the resurrection of Christ! Easter Sunday is followed by a period of 40 days, during which there are no saints’ days or fasting days. This period is dedicated to the glory of Christ’s Resurrection and to the 40 days he spent on earth after His Resurrection. The 40th day after the Resurrection is Ascension Day, commemorating his entry into heaven.
The symbols of the day are red painted eggs which are special joys for kids.

Easter

Easter

5. May- Ascension Day (Hambartsum) Navasard

This is a Christian holiday that commemorates Jesus Christ’s ascension into heaven. Ascension Day (Hampartsoum) is the holiday of love and enjoyment, which is celebrated outdoors in the blossom of May, 40 days after Easter. The celebration is also called Jangyulum (‘gyul’ means rose) in Armenia.

In ancient times on this day the young ladies were allowed to walk freely in the fields, sing songs, and make acquaintances, which often became crucial in their lives. According to people’s imagination this is the night of miracle. It was celebrated with special songs, flower gatherings, tricky games among youth.

Hambartsum

Hambartsum

6. July – Transfiguration – Vardavar

Vardavar is a festival in Armenia where people drench each other with water. Although now a Christian tradition, Vardavar’s history dates back to pagan times. I is currently celebrated 98 days (14 weeks) after Easter.
As it is common to pour water on everyone around, people are  prepared to get to their dates wet and funny.

Vardavar

Vardavar

7. August- Grape Blessing Day

There is this weird holiday in Armenia celebrated on the nearest Sunday of August 15. The grape is the only fruit that has the honor to be blessed before people will start eating it. There is a special ceremony held in churches for blessing. In the Armenian Church grapes are given preference over other fruits as the first fruit of the harvest. This is conditioned by a number of historical and religious circumstances. After the devastating flood, our ancestor Noah planted a vineyard in the valley on the slopes of Mt. Ararat and grew grapes.
The rules of the Armenian Church do not prohibit eating grapes before the Blessing, and the tradition of abstaining from eating grapes before the ceremony is rooted in the people, and has become a national habit.

Grape Blessing

Grape Blessing

 

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