Armenian Summer Holidays
The Holiday of Holy Etchmiadzin
This is the great church holiday in Armenia. The Holy Etchmiazdin is the heart of Armenian faith, ancient city, which became the spiritual center of Armenia, because it is the place of location of sacred temples and churches, and the main one is the Mother Cathedral of Holy Etchmiadzin. It is the day of its foundation which is celebrated by believers 64 days after Easter and compulsory on Sunday. By the legend, the Cathedral was built on the order from Jesus Christ, who came to Grigor Lusavorich (founder of Christianity on Armenian land) in his dream. By the way, the relics of Saint Grigor Lusavirich (Gragor the Illuminator) and other Armenian saints are kept in the Mother Cathedral of Holy Etchmiazdin, as the most valuable relics: a particle of True Cross of Christ, part of the crucifixion thrown and the lance of Longinus, which pierced Christ. Every year thousands of believers come here to see and to touch these relics. But it is a big fortune, is the arrival in Etchmiazdin concurs with its holiday. The sacred liturgy, accompanied with colorful rites, is served in the Cathedral at this solemn day.
The Constitution of Armenia was adopted on July 5, 1995. Since that time this day is marked in national calendar as red-lettered day and is the day off. At this sunny summer day Yerevan is transformed and becomes the stage for great street festivities. Grand Cascade raises to the sky its giant jets of fountains, near the Opera and Ballet Theatre one can hear the sounds of a live orchestra, which plays right on the street! The wonderful smell of barbecue is spread along the streets: restaurants and cafes do not have enough time to serve visitors. It is particularly noisy and crowded in city parks, where from the very morning the full range of entertainment: games, contests and attractions are waiting for adults and children.
In ancient times, exactly this holiday in Armenia was the most awaited and grandiose. It was a celebration of the beginning of all beginnings: the beginning of the year, the beginning of Armenian statehood, the beginning of Armenian calendar...
Where did this starting point come from? As the great Armenian chronicler Moses Khorenatsi describes in his book "History of Armenia", on August 11, 2492 BC the founder of Armenian nation - the legendary Hayk – liberated his compatriots from the power of Assyrian king Bel, defeating him in a fierce battle. This day was proclaimed by Armenians as the first day of new state and new time.
Thus, Nawasard became for ancient Armenians the actual first day of the new year. It was celebrated with great excitement and in lavish way. The main action took place on the Mount Aragats, where the high priest lit the torch, which was carried into the Garni temple, and on the slopes of Mount Npat (now in Turkey), where the king, queen, the whole court and aristocracy came to enjoy with Nawasard games (competitions in strength and deftness). Games and feast ware lasted for several days. The main place of the table was occupied by bread and grains. People drank only light wines. The Hard drinking was condemned. On the holiday of Nawasard none of meal went without an ancient Armenian spices - ngatzahik. Dried-up this flower exhaled the wonderful fragrance, symbolizing for Armenian people the smell of their native land.
Today Nawasard is celebrated on the state level. The name was also changed to "the Day of national identity." Those, who want to touch the genuine origins of their nation, go to the pagan Garni temple (28 km from Yerevan), where this pagan holiday is observed as before. It starts as well as four millenniums ago: the priest with prayers kindles the sacrificial fire, the holy wine is brought. Then it is a very exciting ceremony, almost carrying witnesses to the Middle Ages: silver bowls, daggers, incense, eulogy to the glory of the Creator ... The culmination of the festival – the dance shurdzhpar in which all move in a circle, putting arms around each other's shoulders. In ancient times shurdzhpar was an important part of the ritual. Hunters started it before the hunt, the soldiers - before the battle.
The rite of sacrifice follows after this dance. And then directly Nawasard games - bright fancy-dress theatrical show with dances and sports events.