New Year’s Eve in Armenia: Then and Now
By Correspondent Vahan Kirakosyan in Yerevan, Armenia.
One of the ancient countries of the world, Armenia (officially the Republic of Armenia) is a mountainous country in the South Caucasus region of Eurasia. It lies in the highlands surrounding the biblical mountains of Ararat. Pinpointing the fact that the state religion in Armenia is Christianity, which was adopted in 301 AD, it’s important to state that the religion is deeply and strongly rooted here.
Armenia was a regional empire with a rich culture in the years leading up to the 1st Century CE, at one period controlling all the land between the Black and Caspian Seas. In 301, Armenia was the first state to formally adopt Christianity as its official state religion, twelve years before Rome. It also changed between various dynasties. But after Parthian (Iranian), Roman, Arab, Mongol and Persian occupation, Armenia had been substantially weakened. In 1454, the Ottoman Empire and Safavid Persia divided Armenia among themselves.
Happy people of Armenia are the ones to celebrate New Year with a huge excitement and happiness.
The ancient Armenians had been celebrating the coming of the New Year on the 21st of March. That date is also the birthday of the Armenian pagan god Vahagn. On this day the Armenians prepared huge feasts to welcome and celebrate the zenith of nature.
Today, Armenian families do their best to save money for the New Year table. People even do more than they can afford, since it’s believed that “you’ll spend the year just the way you’ve welcomed it”. People also welcome guests during the following days, so the table has to be as “rich” as possible.
Preparations start weeks before the New Year. People start attacking the food stores and supermarkets, trying to do their shopping beforehand, since during the last days many items become more expensive.
One of the most important Armenian New Year table “accessories” is pork leg, but some families also use turkey, a little pig or fish.
Other traditional items for the table include meat snacks, various salads, fruits, various nuts and the sweet sudjukh (walnuts). Dried sweet snacks from all kinds of fruits—sometimes also vegetables—are also a must-have for the table.
One of the most important and interesting traditions of the Armenian New Year is darin (Gata). Darin is a big flat bread with a coin hidden in it. The person who finds the piece with the coin is considered the ‘lucky’ member of the family for the New Year. But the most remarkable meal is the dolma, which is prepared with rice and grape leaves.
17 Year-old linguistic student who studies at Armenian-Russian (Slavonic) University.This young person is a Director and Head photographer at Dan Clay Photography. Vahan Kirakosyan, is a member of European Youth Parliament in Armenia. Knowing his country well, he's also interested in other nations and cultures, also interested in many other stidies like IT, Art, Music, Dancing, etc.