National holidays in Armenia
Armenians are one of the oldest nations with rich culture and traditions. Holidays here are fun and unforgettable, and if you have planned to visit Armenia, check the calendar; there may be some great holiday coming.
We’ll go in order and take a closer look to the Armenian holidays. Let’s start with the New Year. Armenians celebrate the New Year a whole week from the 31st of December to 6th of January. Women start preparations long before the holiday buying various goodies and hiding them from children. Armenian New Year is a family holiday, and everyone tries to celebrate it with family. As soon as the bell rings the last time there start dances and feast. Holidays last till the 5th of January. People visit each other, taste traditional dolma and rate relatives’ New Year table. On those days people forget insults and forgive each other.
On January 6th the Armenians celebrate Christmas “Surb Tsnund” and Epiphany. On the eve of Christmas the liturgy “Chrakaluyts” begins in churches. Christians take home lighted candles. This is a very interesting ceremony, and you definitely need to take part in it. In the morning starts the blessing of water ceremony; Holy oil is added to water and then blessed water is shared with people. It is believed that holy water has healing power.
DAY OF ST. SARGIS
On the first Saturday of “Aradzhavorats” fast Armenians and the Armenian church celebrates the day of St. Sargis. This is the Armenian version of St. Valentine’s Day and is considered the day of love. According to tradition, on the night before the holiday the young girls and boys eat a salty pancake in order to see the bride or groom giving water in a dream. If you visit Armenia on St. Sargis’ day, try the salty pancake and check it for yourself whether the legend is true or not.
If you still want to celebrate Valentine’s Day, do not worry, in Armenia young people just love this holiday and you will definitely feel that “love is in the air”. Besides, on February 14th Armenians celebrate “Terendez” – extreme holiday with jumping over the fire. Armenians light fire in the yard to bring fertility and prosperity into the house. Young people stand in a circle and start jumping over the fire in pairs holding hands. When young people are done, adults and kids are the next to jump over the fire.
From 8th of March to 7th of April Armenians celebrate women’s holidays. A whole month is devoted to women. Those days it is used to congratulate women, to honor them, to give flowers, gifts and love them. On April 7th Armenians celebrate the day of motherhood and beauty. The next day patriarchy is restored because here man is the head of family and man always has the final say, at least men think so.
On April 1st Armenians celebrate not only the April Fool’s Day, but also Palm Sunday. “Tsarzardar” is celebrated a week before Easter. On this day people go to church, and young people wear wreaths of willow trees on their heads. It looks very nice.
Easter in Armenia is the most beloved and important religious holiday. Just like New Year, Armenians celebrate Easter with numerous tasty dishes. Easter begins on Good Friday and lasts all weekend. The most favorite part of the holiday is the coloring of Easter eggs and “egg fights”. The one whose egg remains intact wins. It is interesting that adults play even with great passion than children. Maybe you should try it some time.
40 days after Easter Armenians celebrate Ascension Day (Hambardzum). On this day, young girls dress up and one of them is chosen bride on holiday. All the choir sings, goes from house to house and collects food for the holiday table. At night, young girls get together and sing carols.
At last we have come to the most cheerful Armenian holiday. 14 weeks after Easter Armenians celebrate Vardavar. This ethnic festival is associated with the goddess Astghik. On that day the pilgrims visited the shrine, laid flowers and made sacrifices. Certainly the Christian holiday Vardavar supposes no sacrifices, if only you don’t keep your phone or camera in hand because you will be watered as soon as you go out into the street. You should not get angry or offended by getting completely wet. It is believed that this day you need to be purified with water. Regardless of age and social status everyone is involved into this game. If you are planning to visit Armenia in the summer, stay until July, and celebrate Vardavar.