Tag Archives: Christian

Armenian Traditions and Celebrations: Dzaghgazart (Palm Sunday)

Dzaghgazart, with the literal translation to English being “decorated with flowers”, is celebrated by Armenians around the world who follow the Christian Faith. The day has been declared to be the Day of Blessing the Children, in memory of the fact that during the entry of Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem, children were rejoicing and crying out, “Hosanna to the Son of David.” On Palm Sunday, the Armenian Church remembers the multitude that welcomed with palms, olive branches and cries of Hosanna (Glory to God!). The Church is decorated with palms and olive branches, which are distributed to the worshipers. According to the doctrine of the fathers, throwing clothes in front of Jesus symbolized freeing oneself of sins, while giving branches as gifts was a symbol of honors and ceremonies. The olive branch was considered to be the symbol of wisdom, peace, victory and glory. Giving olive and date branches to Christ who resurrected the dead Ghazaros is the symbol of victory over death.Later in the day, the Armenian Church holds the “Opening of the Doors” (Trnpatsek) service, symbolic of our entrance into Heaven.

In reality, the celebration in Armenia predates Christianity. It was a day of worship dedicated to the resurrection of nature and directly connected to the legend of Ara the Beautiful. When Ara died by the hands of the Assyrian Queen Shamiram’s army, she placed him atop a mountain, beseeching the Aralez gods to lick his wounds and give him back his life. This signifies the rebirth in nature, a testimony to the power of the Heavens. The worship centered largely around the tree of life, known as the Genats tree, which was found to be the predecessor of the Poplar and Sosin trees. Sacred Altars to the Gods were erected among these trees, creating a grove and Godswood. The worship of the sacred trees was so paramount that when Christianity disallowed for the existence of such worship, names such as Sos, Sosi, Soseh, and Chinar came about instead. The pagan Arorti religion would continue on and still exists to this day.

One of the traditions that still exists to this day and is connected to the worship of the sacred trees representing the Tree of Life is the tying of colorful cloth to the branches as prayers and wishes and dreams are offered to the Heavens. Furthermore, the trees are decorates with eggs, as a symbol of life and fertility, a celebration of rebirth.

Another part of the worship was related to the goddess Nouri (Nar, Houri, Nvart), who reigned over the rainy weather and the fertility of the soil. She was turned into a doll with a rainbow belt after Christianity was adopted and forced onto the population. Children would run around with their dolls of Nouri and plates for donations. The people would gather and would dance and sing after sacrificing a lamb to the purity and generosity of Nouri.

-Նուրի-Նուրին էկել ա,

Շիլա-շաբիք հագել ա,

Կարմիր գոտին կապել ա,

Ձու բերեք թաթին դնենք,

Եղ բերենք` սրտին քսենք…

Սրտին քսել means to win over


Another version of the song is sung as such: 

-Նուրի-Նուրին էկել ա,

Դուռն ի դռան կանգնել ա,

Շալե շաբիք հագել ա,

Կեշմե գոտիք կապել ա,

Ձու բերեք, թաթը դնենք,

Եղ բերեք` վարսը քսենք,

Ջուր բերեք` գլխին ածենք,

Աստուծանե ցող թող գա,

Գետնիցը` պտուղ դուս գա…

Լուսանկարը` Նազիկ Արմենակյանի


Trnspatsek (Opening of the Doors) information: http://www.armenianchurch-ed.net/wpblog/tag/palm-sunday/

Ancient/Pagan traditions and information: http://ankakh.com/2012/04/193031/

Armenian Legends: Driving Tamerlane out of Armenia

Those were the days when the earth suffered from hordes of barbarians and plunderers. A despotic tyrant, the bloodthirsty Tamerlane and his huge army, invaded Armenia. His savage cavalry trampled the people, burned their homes, and looted their temples. They even destroyed the precious parchment manuscripts and with them the historical memory of the Armenian nation.

The ruthless tyrant and tormentor was approaching the city of Moks when he suddenly became gravely ill. He then turned into a pitiful cowardly man, because, like all tyrants, more than anything else in the world he was afraid to come to terms with his own mortality. Tamerlane promised anyone who would be able to cure him any wish within his power to grant. But no one knew the cause of his illness and nobody could help the ailing conqueror.

Then, the abbot of the local monastery named Arakel came forth to cure Tamerlane. In return for his services, he asked Tamerlane for all the stolen Armenian parchment manuscripts and books to be returned to their rightful owners, for the release from captivity of as many people as he could fit inside his temple, and finally, his army was to leave the land of Armenia for all time. Tamerlane eagerly agreed to all conditions.

And so Arakel of Moks proceeded to cure Tamerlane with his secret herbs, charms and prayers. The tyrant reluctantly returned all the stolen manuscripts. He then had to return the captives, as many as would fit in the temple of the Moks monastery. Prisoners went in, at first, one by one, then by the dozen, then by the hundred.

They walked in and never walked out.

Tamerlane could not believe his eyes. “What is this?” he fumed. “How could such a small temple accommodate tens of thousands of people? What miracle is this? Who are these people? We better leave this place at once before some other disastrous miracles start to happen.”

Seventy thousand prisoners entered the temple. It is said that the abbot Arakel turned them into doves and released them through a narrow church window. Those doves flew away to their native mountains, landed by their homes, and turned back into people. And the land of Armenia was free from Tamerlane and his hordes.

source: http://araratbrandy.com/en/legends/legend?p=013

The Armenian Origins of Santa Clause

According to tert.am, the origins of St Nikolas, also known as Santa Clause or the jolly old man who drives a sleigh pulled by reindeer, bringing presents and happiness to the world, have been found to be Armenian.

-Ethnographer Rafael Nahapetyan, speaking to reporters today, said that according to mentioning mother of the so much loved saint in Europe was an Armenian.

“It is mentioned that he was born in 280 and was of Armenian descent. It was considered that he was the son of Ergephan and Armenian beauty Nune. This rich family was not having a baby for quite a long time and finally, listening to their prayers, God gives them miraculous son, which becomes a person worshiped in all the European countries,” the ethnographer said.

St Nikolas was born in Batara town (near today’s Antalya). In the early age he lost his parents and was brought up by uncle Archbishop Nikolas Yerets. The commandment ‘Sell what you have and distribute the money to the poor’ became his life’s slogan.

With people’s wish he became Zmyurnia’s archbishop. Later he was exiled but continued propagating the Gospel. He died in 326 and is the most loved saint known as Santa Claus.

Rafael Nahapetyan, however, said St. Nikolas died in Zmyurnia, from whence his remains were transported to Italy in 1080. “His mission was curing people and families were looking forward for his visits,” he said.- http://tert.am/en/news/2012/12/29/santa-claus-hay/

Jerusalem Armenian Cemetery Vandalized

Greek Orthodox Abbot of the Monastery of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem, Archimandrite Claudius, looks at a car sprayed with anti-Christian graffiti reading ‘price tag’ and slashed tires outside his monastery on December 12, 2012

JERUSALEM—Vandals sprayed anti-Christian graffiti on Jerusalem’s Monastery of the Cross and at an Armenian cemetery overnight, Agence France Presse reported.

Father Claudius, the monastery’s abbot, said he had noticed the graffiti at 4:30 am local time when he got up to pray.

Vandals spray-painted “Death to Christianity” and “Jesus, son of a whore” on the Greek Orthodox monastery in Jerusalem.

The attacks drew a strong condemnation from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who expressed “disgust” over the incidents, his office said.

Outside the Monastery of the Cross near the Israeli parliament, vandals also slashed the tires of three cars belonging to staff, and wrote “price tag” and “Happy Hanukkah” the Jewish holiday now being observed.

“This is the seventh time this has happened,” he told reporters at the scene, saying that if the vandals had simply knocked on the door he would have invited them in for tea to talk to them about his faith.

“The Jewish values by which we were raised, and by which we raise our children, firmly reject such actions,” Netanyahu said in the statement. “Freedom of worship for all religions in Israel will be preserved and we will take legal action against the immoral people who committed these crimes.”

source: http://asbarez.com/107085/jerusalem-armenian-cemetery-vandalized/


Armenians in Ireland

A small Armenian community exists in Ireland. The bulk of Irish Armenians live in Dublin and the exact number figures of how many Armenians are in Ireland are unknown, estimates range from 150 to 350 individuals who identify themselves as being of Armenian descent. In religion, the majority of Irish Armenians belong to the Armenian Apostolic Church, while the rest are mainly Armenian Catholics. The Armenian community has established a Sunday School and registered the Armenian Apostolic Church in Ireland.

Primate Very Revd. Dr. Vahan Hovhanessian set up the Armenian Mission Parish Council (MPC) for all Ireland in March 2011. In October 2010, The Armenian Church in Ireland was officially recognized, for the first time, by the Authorities in Ireland as a legal denomination and given the right to conduct its religious services and sacraments and preside over wedding ceremonies. Visitation of the mission parish by the clergy to celebrate Badarak (Divine Liturgy and Communion) , the establishment of educational programs regarding the Armenian faith, Bible studies, lectures and the provision of leadership and encouragement are just some of the objectives of a mission parish.

St. Hripsime Armenian Sunday School, founded by Ohan Yergainharsian, was established in 2009 thanks to the joint efforts of members of the Armenian community and the active support of the Armenian Honorary Consulate in Ireland. The school was established in recognition of the fact that Armenian children in Ireland did not have opportunities to study Armenian language, nor did they have opportunities to interact with fellow Armenians of their own age. The school facilities are rented from the Taney Parish Center.

Although there are several accounts of links between Armenia and Ireland rooted in ancient history, the bilateral relations on a state-to-state level were established following Armenia’s independence in 1991. Ireland recognized Armenia’s independence in December 1991 soon after the establishment of the Republic of Armenia following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Diplomatic relations between the two countries were established in 1996.

Learn more about the community: