New Year in Armenia
December 31 - January 4
The New Year celebration is a big deal in Armenia. New Year in Armenia is marked with a joyful atmosphere, lavish holiday decorations and social and cultural events galore, it is a fascinating mix of religious and secular activities.
The celebration starts on New Year's Eve, when many people head to churches to participate in the New Year liturgy. One of the highlights of this service is the blessing of pomegranates, a national symbol of Armenia. Once the service is over, people head home to enjoy the evening. Tables bend under the weight of traditional Armenian New Year dishes and drinks as friends and families gather to celebrate. People hope that the arriving year will be as plenteous as the food that they serve.
Shortly before midnight, relatives gather to swap gifts and exchange wishes. Younger kids await a visit by Dzmer Pap or "Grandfather Winter," an Armenian version of Santa Claus. At the stroke of midnight, fireworks, toasts, and New Year greetings resound throughout the country, and the parties continue well into the night.
In many countries, January 1 is a day dedicated to recuperation after the New Year's festivities. Not in Armenia, though! During the first days of the New Year, Armenians traditionally go through an intense period of visiting family members and friends. The meetings take place in a hierarchical order, from the most crucial family members, such as parents, to more remote relatives and friends. People get offended if you do not visit them, so Armenians take special care to leave no one out.