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Happy New Year 2020 and Merry Christmas to all the people in the world! Have you noticed the little word order change in the first sentence? That’s not a mistake. Armenians celebrate New Year on the 1st of January, then Christmas on 6th of January. Join this miraculous voyage to explore marvelous Armenian New Year and Christmas celebration traditions.
The preparation for the New Year celebration usually starts at mid-November in Armenia. Families get together to discuss what they are going to cook for the wealthy New Year celebration table. Everything is discussed in micro details. The table should be filled with all kinds of delicious food to please the guests of any taste.
Anyway, there are some “must have” dishes that embellish the laid table. In the center of attention is a huge leg of pork, then comes Armenian dolma, pasuts dolma (the vegetarian version of beef dolma, made of all sorts of seeds and grains), turkey, chicken, fish, pancake rolled with spicy meat called blinchik, all kinds of salads, kufta and ishli kufta, a few hundred liters of natural juices and mineral waters, plus the dignity of all Armenian men cognac, vodka, wine, champagne and so on and so forth. The New Year starts at midnight of the 31st of December. Members of the families congratulate each other and then starts another Armenian tradition.
After celebrating and wishing happy New Year to each other Armenians start to visit their neighbors, relatives and friends. Yes! Starting from midnight. They start with the most honorable once (their parents or godfather and godmother) and then following week they go on visiting their relatives and friends.
This tradition comes from the depth of centuries, then at the New Year night teenagers went from door to door with a candle in their arms bringing light to every family and collecting fruits and nuts. Today Armenians gift a box of chocolates and an alcoholic drink and some sweets and toys to the hosts and their children. New Year is a peachy chance to visit all your far and near relatives and friends whom you haven’t seen for a long time.
When the western world receives presents from Santa on 25 December, Armenian Dzmer Pap (that is Winter Grandfather) brings presents on the night of 31 December (to 1 January). He usually leaves a small package of tangerine, nuts and sweets under the children’s pillows and the main gift; toy or something entertaining, at the doorway. In the ancient times Dzmer Pap never left a present to anyone, instead he left a note of 7 advises; respect each other, be in peace, be honest, be wise, be hardworking, be humble and be grateful.
Armenians are the first nation to adopt Christianity as state religion in 301 AD. And starting from that period they celebrate Christmas on the 6th of January. Though in the 4th century Catholics replaced the date from the 6th of January to 25th of December to get ride off a pagan feast dedicated to the Sun, Armenians never were defected from this change and continued celebrating the birth of Christ on the 6th of January.
People bring Christmas fire from churches to their homes, believing it will bless their families and bring success. To celebrate Christmas woman usually cook rice with raisins, fish, ghapama (traditional Armenian dish made of pumpkin) and gata with a coin in it. People say that the one who finds the coin in his piece of gata is going to be the luckiest during the year.
If you don’t have any relatives and friends in Armenia, you can still feel the Armenian spirit of New Year and Christmas and celebrate it in a ski resort town Tsaghkadzor, or in Gyumri a city with rich history and heritage, or may be in Yeghegnadzor the town of famous Armenian wine, or in Ejmiatsin the holly city of all Armenians.
There are many amazing activities that you can be part of in the capital Yerevan; run in the Santa’s marathon, have a walk around the charming Christmas Market in the North Avenue, or visit the winter park.
Already excited to have your portion of old good Armenian hospitality? Then don’t forget to rent a car with Enterprise Armenia to enjoy the Christmas and explore the winter roads in Armenia.
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Armenian Traditions for New Year and Christmas Celebration