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Home :: Holidays

National-ecclesiastical feasts calendar 2011

New Year/January 1                                                 
Presently all Christian churches celebrate the New Year on January 1. The word "January" means "birth". Before Christ's coming to the world mankind was the captive of hell and constrained by eternal death. Being born in January Christ destroyed the hell, saved the mankind from eternal death and leads to the Kingdom of Heaven. That's why January became the months' beginning.  January 1 is the first day of the first month of the year of birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.  On January 1 a Divine Liturgy is celebrated in all churches.According to the folk tradition on January 1 people decorate the New Year tree symbolizing the Tree of Life of Eden. New Year
Christmas/January 6
Each year, on January 6, the Armenian Apostolic Church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Nativity and Theophany of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which is the commemoration of the Birth and Baptism of Jesus Christ. Both Theophanies revealed by means of the Birth and Baptism of Jesus Christ are celebrated in the Armenian Church jointly on January 6. The feast starts on the eve, in the evening of January 5, and is continued after the midnight. On the eve a solemn Candlelight Divine Liturgy is celebrated and on January 6 a solemn Divine Liturgy is celebrated. At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy Blessing of the Waters Service is conducted symbolizing the Baptism of Christ in the River Jordan at the commencement of His ministry. By means of His Baptism Jesus blessed water. Christmas
Tiarn'ndaraj/February 14

On February 14, the Armenian Church celebrates the Feast of the Lord's Presentation to the Temple. Tiarn'ndaraj, or Candlemas as it is known in the West, symbolizes the presentation of the 40 day-old Christ Child to the Temple in Jerusalem.
Many additional customs have been inherited from the past, including the blessing of the four corners of the world in the Andastan Service, the blessing of newlywed couples, as well as offering prayers for the crops and fertility of the fields.


Feast of  St. Sarkis the Captain/February 4

By the order of His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, the Feast of St. Sarkis the Captain and his soldiers-companions is proclaimed day of blessing of the youth. Captain St. Sarkis is one of the most beloved saints among the Armenian nation. Together with his 14 soldiers-companions he was martyred for the sake of Christian faith. In Armenia it is accepted to celebrate the Feast of St. Sarkis not only according to church rites and prayer, but also according to various folk traditions. St. Sarkis the Captain is the patron of youth. Many miracles happen thanks to his intercession. On the day of the feast young people pray the saint asking him to make their prayers audible to God. St. Sarkis is the realizer of the love longings.
St. Sargis

Great Barekendan(Carnival)/February 19
The Armenian Church has defined the period of Great Lent as a time of abstinence and repentance for the faithful. Each Sunday during this period is named after an event in the Holy Bible that contains the message of the day. According to the calendar, the days prior to weekly fasts, as well as Great Lent, (with the exception of the fast preceding Holy Nativity) are called Barekendan. The word Barekendan means "good living" or "good life", as we are called to live cheerfully, joyfully, and to be happy on these days preceding fasting periods. On these days of Barekendan, the angel's words addressed to the prophet Elijah are fulfilled:  "Arise and eat, otherwise the journey will be too great for you" (1 Kings 19:7). The Armenian Church thus allows her faithful to organize games, festivals, carnivals and large, plentiful meals to observe the feast, as it is followed by a period of fasting and abstinence.

Tsaghkazard (Palm Sunday)/April 1
One week before the Feast of the Glorious Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Armenian Church celebrates the Feast of Palm Sunday, celebrating the Triumphant Entry of Christ into Jerusalem. Jesus comes into Jerusalem riding atop a donkey and the people gather to meet Him with reverence, thus fulfilling the words of the prophet from the Old Testament. On Palm Sunday, churches are decorated with branches from willow trees and palm trees.  Following a solemn morning service, the blessed branches are distributed to the faithful. This passage from the Gospels reminds each of us about the Coming of Christ, and teaches us to live in a manner that can make us worthy to stand before the Lord and exclaim: "Hosanna (Praise God)! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!"
Palm Sunday

Zatik (Easter)/April 8
he Feast of the Glorious Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ or the Easter Feast is one of the five major feasts of the Armenian Church. The main origin of the feast is the following. The Mystery of Easter is the mystery of Jesus Christ, His Salutary Holy Blood shed for mankind and His Rising from the dead for mankind. The Son of God should incarnate, be subjected to tortures, be crucified, buried and the third day raise from death.
On the day of the Easter feast people dye eggs red as a symbol of fruitful life, salvation and joy. St. Gregory of Datev considers the egg to be the symbol of the world, the shell of which is the sky, the membrane is the air, the white is the water and the yolk is the earth. Dyeing eggs red symbolizes the salvation of the world by means of Blood of Christ.


Hambartsum (Asencion)/May 17

The Armenian Church celebrates the Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord on the fortieth day following the Feast of the Glorious Resurrection of Our Savior Jesus Christ. Following His Resurrection and defeat of death, Christ remained on earth for forty days, and continued to appear to His disciples. On the fortieth day, Christ is seen by His disciples for the last time. He blesses them and leaves them with instructions, after which He ascends into heaven. The hymn that is sung in the Armenian Church on Ascension Day mentions the miraculous event of Christ's Ascension into heaven and the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles.

Vardavar Transfiguration)/July 15
The Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ is one of the five main "Tabernacle" feasts of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Holy Church. It commemorates the transformation or the "transfiguration" that came over Jesus while He was praying.
In the Armenian Church, the Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ is celebrated 98 days following Easter.  The Feast also is known by the common name of "Vardakas". This day is associated with an old Armenian tradition of pouring water on one another. Some sources attribute the tradition as a remnant of an Armenian pre-Christian celebration.  The Monday following the Feast is a Memorial Day.

St.Astvatsatsin (St. Mary)/August 26

Each year on the Sunday closest to the date of August 15, the Armenian Church celebrates the Feast of the Assumption of St. Mary, the Holy Mother of God. In the Calendar of the Armenian Church, this feast is the fourth of five major feasts that are commemorated, and is the oldest one dedicated to St. Mary. On the Feast of the Assumption of St. Mary, the Ceremony of the Blessing of the Grapes is conducted, and the harvest for the entire year is blessed on that day. The Armenian Church has a deep and abiding respect towards St. Mary.  Special emphasis is placed on her being a mother, her honesty, her unique spirit of humility, her virtuous behavior and her unselfish dedication. For Armenian women, the Holy Virgin is the embodiment of virtue, pious motherhood, and the protector of family sacredness.

St. Mary
Surb Khach (St. Cross)/September 16
Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross is the last one of the five major feasts of the Armenian Apostolic Church. It is the most important feast among the feasts dedicated to the Holy Cross, as it is dedicated to the history of the return of the Holy Cross from imprisonment, its elevation and glorification. In the Armenian Apostolic Church the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross is celebrated on Sunday during the period between September 11-17. For Christians the Cross is God's power and strength and pride of all prides, on which Christ's innocent blood was shed. By means of the Cross Jesus proved His love towards mankind, and the Cross became for us the symbol of hope, love and saving.

St. Cross
Holy Translators Day (Targmanchats ton)/October 13
For the Armenian people the Feast of the Holy Translators is one of the most favorite and beloved national-ecclesiastical feasts. Nearly two hundred disciples of St. Mesrob Mashtots and St. Sahak are known by the general group name "Holy Translators". The disciples of the above mentioned group of Holy Translators are known as "Junior Translators". Celebrating this feast, the Armenian Apostolic Church pays tribute of respect to the bright memory of St. Mesrob Mashtots, Yeghishe, Moses of Khoronk, philosoppher Davit Anhaght, whose sacred work and mission later has been continued on by St. Gregory of Narek and St. Nerses the Gracious.

Translators Day
Navasard/November 22
Navasard was an old Armenian autumn New Year, on the borderline of summer and winter. This line used to represent the end of cattle-breeding and the beginning of hunting season. From that day on Khash could be eaten, Zurna could be played and the pitchers of wine could be opened. Most rituals of Navasard were moved to the present New Year festival, e.g. giving presents to each other, visiting each other with a bottle of wine, giving out sweets and laying the table. A sacrificing ceremony with a ritual doll and a special song was performed for Akla Marem for the land to be fertile. Dried-peach alanii was sacrificed to Alanii, the old Goddess of Autumn Sun. The ritual of "lightening" (cultivating) the land with picks at the end of autumn was also for Alanii. This was performed with the first scent of snow after Navasard. From that day on until New Year and Christmas no festivals or ceremonies are known to have existed in historical Armenia.

Official holidays

New Year's Day 1, 2 January
Christmas 6 January
Army Day  28 January
Women's Day  8 March
Mothers' & Beauty Day 7 April
Genocide Remembrance Day 24 April
Labour Day 1 May
Victory Day  9 May
Republic Day  28 May
Constitution Day  5 July
Independence Day  21 September
Day of Remembrance of Victims of the 1988 Earthquake 7 December 
New Year's Eve 31 December