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Ancient Armenian Holidays
According to the legend, Hayk Nahapet defeated the forces of Babylonian tyrant Bel and initiated the future Armenian state and nation. It happened on August 11, 2492BC. That day - August 11 - was the New Year (Amanor) for the ancient Armenians.
Main New Year events took place on both sides of the river Aratzani on the slope of Npat Mountain. King and queen with their suite and generals with their forces took part in celebrations. People from all the parts of Armenia came here. The main meaning of the Amanor celebrations wasn't just merriment, but also the union of the nation.
Celebrations lasted several days. During one day people drank sweet drinks and light wines, but one couldn't find any drunken person: "Most of the tares Gods leave in the field of the drunkard", says the ancient Armenian proverb.
Because of climatic differences of Armenia, in different parts of the country people made different dishes for the festal table. But everywhere there was one common ingredient: round wheat, grown only in Armenia. Our ancestors ate bread made of that wheat on Amanor, for pagan gods to make the coming year fertile.
Nowadays Amanor is also celebrated on August 11. The celebration takes place in pagan temple in Garni.
This holiday is celebrated every year on February 14. It is somehow like Russian Maslennitsa and St. Valentine's Day, as it main participants are young couples.
The origins of Trndez can be found in ancient ritual of fire pagan-ignicolists. In the beginning the holiday was called Derendez, which means "hay sheaf in front of your house" - that is wish of prosperity to the home and fertility to the land. After adoption of Christianity some changes were made in the name of the holiday and it became Terendez ("ter" - lord). Since that time main participants of the holiday are the young - just married or young couples who plan to marry during current year.
The main symbol of the action is a fire over which people are jumping. It is necessary to hold hands while jumping for the union to be strong. While boys and girls are jumping, elders strew them with seeds of wheat and hemp.
It is believed that during the ritual the flame acquires special energy of renovation, new life. After the youngsters the turn of elders or childless women comes. Than everybody dances in the general dance around the fire. Ash of burnt holiday fire than is spilled in the fields to help the new harvest.
Vardavar, also known in Christian tradition as Transfiguration of Jesus Christ, is one of the most popular and biggest holidays in Armenia, which is now celebrated 98 days after the Easter. In spite of its Christian essence, Vardavar has lots of pagan elements that come from centuries. It is thought that St. Gregory the Illuminator, first catholicos of Armenia, set the date of the Transfiguration holiday on Navasard 1st (August 11th) - the date of an old pagan holiday, so it took some of the elder holiday elements.
According to one of the versions, title "Vardavar" is based on the word "vard" - "rose", and means "strewing with roses". In pre-Christian period Vardavar was connected with love and beauty goddess Astghik and her love with god Vahagn. Presenting roses and spilling water, Astghik sowed love all over Armenian country, and Vahagn always fighting Evil, defended and protected that love.
The other background of the word may be "vard" - "water" and "var" - "wash, pour", which means "sprinkle water". The ancient legend says that there was a rich man who demanded young beauties as slaves for using the water he owned. But brave young man Vardan defeated that miscreant and liberated girls. So, on that day people douche themselves and others. As centuries ago, today people start to have fun pouring water on everyone from the morning, and usually nobody is offended for that.