The spring holidays
St. Sargis Day - St. Sargis Day is celebrated on a Saturday, sixty-three days before Easter. The day is named for St. Sargis, a powerful third-century soldier who rode a white horse and defended Christianity. The day is not a state holiday, but is a favorite with the young and young at heart. According to tradition, you should eat a very salty cake before going to bed and not wash it down with any liquids. Then, you concentrate on your dreams. If you dream about someone pouring a glass of water, that person is destined to be your spouse. Armenians also make a pastry, called pokhindz, and leave it in their yards on St. Sargis night. If St. Sargis's horse leaves a hoof print on the pastry, the year ahead will be a good one.
Today, St. Sargis competes with Valentine's Day for the attention of young Armenians. However, since St. Sargis comes first, some modern Armenians see it as a chance to test the affections of their potential love. If the person you're considering appears in your dreams on St. Sargis night, it's definitely worth pursuing that person on Valentine's Day!
Terendez - Another festival, observed the day before Valentine's Day, is Terendez. For the Church, it's the day to celebrate forty days after Jesus' birth. The faithful light candles in church and take the consecrated light back to their homes. However, the real fun of Terendez celebrations comes from the borrowed pagan traditions, for this is a time to "jump the fire." A fire—a pagan symbol of warmth and renewal—is lit, and newly married or engaged couples are encouraged to jump through it to ensure their fertility. In some villages, children and pregnant or new mothers are also invited to make the leap. Afterward everyone is invited to dance, and when the fire is finally extinguished its ashes are distributed among the festival participants. The ash is also considered very important for renewal, and is given to the pregnant and ill to sprinkle on their food or drink. Some people also spread the ash across their fields and cattle sheds, or place it in the stoves they use to make lavash (Armenian bread).
What isn't often mentioned in the traditional guides to Armenia is that vodka is also often involved in the Terendez celebration. Ultimately, this can lead to considerable burned shoe leather.
Women's Month - While lovers get their days in February, women get an entire month during the spring. Celebrations begin on Women's Day, March 8, which is a bank holiday. On this day it's traditional to honor the women in your life (wife, mother, aunts, sisters, girlfriend, and even female work colleagues) with gifts such as chocolate and flowers. In Soviet culture, March 8 was dedicated to honor the women's rights movement, but the Armenians have made it more romantic.
Approximately a month later, on April 7, comes Motherhood and Beauty Day. The whole month has become a time for commercial activity. Stores and restaurants offer discounts and promotions, and many nongovernment organizations choose this month to put on special events, lectures, and demonstrations to raise awareness of women's issues.
Genocide Victims' Memorial Day - Every year, on April 24, Armenians honor the memory of the 1.5 million victims of the 1915 genocide. In Yerevan, thousands of people join the annual procession from the center of the city to the genocide memorial to pay their respects. Similar processions take place in Diaspora countries across the globe on this day.
Easter - Easter (Zatik) is a favorite day in Armenia. After a cold winter, everyone looks forward eagerly to the holiday. During the Lent period leading up to Easter, Armenian families put lentils or other sprouting grains on a tray, cover them with a cotton cloth, and keep the tray in a light, sunny place in the home. Around Easter time the sprouts will start to appear, symbolizing spring and the world's awakening. The sprouts also become the "grass" for a traditional Armenian centerpiece for the Easter holiday. During Easter you'll also see braided bread and many items, including eggs, painted red to symbolize the blood of Christ.
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