The popular festivals of Armenia have a significant religious component. We cannot forget that this was the first country in the whole world which coupled Christianity to its culture as the main religion. However, there are still some pagan festivals which are typical of the oldest folklore.
According to the calendar of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Christmas takes place on 5th and 6th January and is a very family-based holiday. During this day, the family gathers around the table. People invite not only family, but also friends. In the morning, on 6th January, a consecration ceremony takes place in the church of each district. Once the religious service is finished, the attendees take some consecrated water home.
Another of the very important festivities in Armenia is Holy Week, which is called Surb Zatik, which in the Armenian language means "holy liberation". It is a celebration that symbolises the liberation of the world from suffering and from all evil. During these days adults confess their sins and children express their most hidden secrets. On Sunday, as in other countries, eggs are often shared and it is also customary for locals to greet each other with three kisses.
Another of the most relevant events in Armenia is Trndez, which is held every 14th February. It is a national holiday with pagan roots. That day is a tribute in honour of the goddess of Armenian mythology, Astghik, associated with sensuality, beauty and water. The main protagonists of this holiday are married couples and lovers. When night falls after the celebrations, bonfires are lit, couples hold hands tightly and jump over the fire. Those who manage to make the leap without letting go will enjoy a happy marriage.
Meanwhile, older locals spread hemp and wheat grains over young people who jump over the fire, symbolising prosperity and happiness. After the younger couples, it is women without children's turn to jump. According to popular beliefs, the flames help them to have children. The ashes resulting from the fires are thrown over the fields, as they believe they will help make the land more fertile and favour a good harvest. Trndez is undoubtedly one of the most peculiar festivities in Armenia.
Among the popular festivals of Armenia is San Sarkis, which takes place on 19th February, and is another of the events in Armenia dedicated to love. San Sardis is the Armenian patron saint of lovers and on this day there are some quite curious activities. The children of the country eat salty foods and refuse to drink water. Before going to bed, they eat a typical salty cake, which has been cooked by a married woman in a prosperous and happy marriage. It is said that when the children are sleeping, they will be thirsty and will see water in their sleep. Then they will see a man or a woman who delivers the water to them and that person will be their fiance(e).
Among the festivities of Armenia is also the day of the Transfiguration of the Lord or Vardavar. It is celebrated fourteen weeks after Easter Sunday and celebrated by spraying each other with water. Children and young people are given water containers and start to get each other wet, as well as the locals who pass by. It is a very fun party accompanied by movement, laughter and fun which Armenians wait for with impatience.
Armenian Remembrance Day
24th April is a national holiday and it is one of the most important and solemn events in Armenia. The victims of the Armenian genocide are remembered and honoured. Thousands of citizens congregate in a memorial building in Yerevan, and make floral offerings before the eternal flame to honour the Armenians killed because of Azerbaijani pogroms in Sumgait, Baku and Kirovabad. In addition, all the flags in the country are lowered in a sign of mourning.
Shusha Liberation Day
8th May is Shusha Liberation Day or Army Day. Another of the events in Armenia of great solemnity. Shusha is a city which is located in Nagorno-Karabakh, and which was liberated from Azerbaijani occupation in 1992Vardanank
Vardanank takes place 8 weeks before Easter, and it is a day dedicated to St Vardan, who died defending the Christian faith. On this day we find the Armenian festivities of a religious nature.
This is National Identity Day, which is celebrated every 11th August. Navasard is one of the oldest folk festivals in Armenia and it is inspired by an old legend. This legend tells of how Aike, the father of the Armenian people, defeated Bel, the Assyrian tyrant. Today, it is customary to eat white bread, prepared and baked in each house. Bread represents the desire to please the gods. Before Christianity settled in Armenia, it was thought that these offerings would make the year more fertile. Guests are entertained with sweet drinks and rich light wines.