The Armenian New Year and Christmas

The Armenian New Year and Christmas

December 25, 2018

Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, as well as other beautiful Armenian cities, are preparing for the winter holidays with great enthusiasm. If you still have no idea where to celebrate memorable and unique winter holidays, hidden Armenia will be a perfect choice. Here are exciting things in Armenia between Christmas and New Year.

Christmas table

Traditional servings
    
The greatest and the most exciting thing about Armenian New Year is the rich and lavish table. The Armenians have such a unique Christmas dishes that no other nation has. The abundant and delicious cuisine will make your trip memorable and full of taste. Armenian people start nimble and joyful preparations several days before the long-expected New Year.

Each Armenian family does its best to have the fullest Christmas table. The variety of dishes is diverse, and each plate has a unique and delicious flavour. The treasure of Christmas table is the succulent pork leg.  Armenian wives spice it with aromatic ingredients and then serve it.  Some Armenian families prefer the turkey besides the pork leg, which is also a delicious dish prepared by very "hospitable' hands.

Pork leg at Christmas table

Photo Credits: Xohanots.am

Another variant for meat lovers is the fish seasoned with rich spiceries. The Armenians have a traditional Christmas dish called blinchik: it is beef seasoned minced meat wrapped with soft dough. We have spoken many times about Tolma. But do you know that Tolma is another decoration at Christmas table? Yeah, we prepare it and put on the table to surprise our neighbours and relatives.

Blinchik

Tolma is made of meat wrapped in a cabbage or grape leaves. Each family has its way of Tolma, and the taste mainly depends on the different tasty ingredients added with meat. Another type of Tolma is called “pasus”, which comes from the Armenian word lent (պաս). It is a vegetarian option, mainly made of bean, grains and a good amount of spices and seasonings.

Pasuts Tolma

We like keeping it in a refrigerator one day before serving because it tastes much better the next day. Armenian Christmas tables are abundant in many types of salad filled with fresh vegetables and some kinds of meat. One of the must-eating salad is the Armenian matsun mixed with dried grape and nut. The salad has a nutty and dainty unforgettable taste.

Mouth-watering drinks

The Armenians belong to the nations who adore holidays and celebrate it in a festive mood. Of course, Christmas is no exception. On those days many businesses stop working and all the Armenians dedicate themselves to the lively and fantastic holidays. Armenian national drinks are famous all over the world․ The red wine and cognac are the prominent decorations on the lavish Christmas tables.

Armenian Wine

You can find traditional apricot vodka on every table of  Armenian families. I can’t forget to mention the meaningful Armenian toasts. Armenian people are the kindest and so are their toasts. You will hear many salutes such as good health for everyone, peaceful sky, the soldiers to come home safe, the unmarried to find their love and create their own families. So let yourself be at the kindest and warmest atmosphere around the lovely Armenians. 

Flavour sweets  

Generally, we are sweet-lovers. And if you are also sweet-addicted, there are many national variants for you. The fullest Christmas tables suggest you very domestic and sweet pastries. The highly recommended cakes are “Gata”, which is the very traditional and must-preparing one, and Baklava, which is a sweet layered cake with chopped nuts.

Armenian charaz

The national “charaz” filled with nut, hazelnut, almond, a dried grape called chamich, pistachio. It is impossible to find any Christmas table without many types of aromatic and delicious dried fruits, fruit lavash, and many other mouth-watering typical Christmas sweets.

Traditional Christmas

The Armenians are among the nationalities who adore customs and unconditionally follow them. Generally, we have a high number of customs including Christmas traditions and a unique way of celebrating. It is believed that the Armenian nation distinguishes from other nationalities with many aspects. Christmas is one of the most significant holidays for us, and we have a specific and exciting way of celebration.

On Christmas days all the families visit home to home and celebrate each other’s New Year. We drink a toast for good luck, peaceful life and the dreams to come true. Many European countries celebrate New year eve on 25th December. But the celebration day of Armenian Christmas is 31st December. Initially, all Christian churches used to celebrate Christ’s birth on January 6th until the fourth century.

Christ's birth

According to Roman Catholic origins, the date changed from January 6th to December 25th to override a pagan ceremonial dedicated to the birth of the Sun which was celebrated on December 25th. At the time Christians used to continue their observance of these heathen festivities. Today the Armenians celebrate Christ's birth on January 6 with great respect.

On this significant day, on the evening of January 5, people visit local churches and take part in the ceremony of the Christmas and take lit candles to their houses to burn them on the evening supper as a sign of divine light and blessing. Traditional Christmas dishes are the fish as the symbol of Christianity, and the rice made with raisins; rice symbolises the whole of humanity, and the raisins are the selected ones, who were chosen by God.
 

Entertainment

Besides the delicious food, the children like New Year, for the long-expected visit of Santa Claus, called Dzmer Pap or Kaghand Pap in Armenian, who secretly enters into the houses on December 31-January 1 overnight. In the morning of January 1, children find presents under the Christmas tree. Adults also exchange presents when they visit each other’s house from January 1 to even January 13, the day, when Armenians celebrate old New Year.

Santa Claus, called Dzmer Pap

It is worth feeling the joyful and festive atmosphere around Yerevan. Every corner of our capital such as the streets, the squares, entertainment centres starts becoming a winter paradise one month before the New Year.  To the point, on December 21, the lights of the New Year Tree of the Republic Square were lit up. It’s rather awesome. It is the queen of the city and has become an attraction even for the locals. See for yourself.

Armenian Christmas tree

During New Year days Yerevan is decorated with the brightest lights. In a festive mood, you can explore  Christmas markets which are always open in front of a shopaholic and curious citizens. You can carry something like a memory from Armenia.

And during New Year time organizes many thematic events both for the locals and the adventurous tourists. One of the exciting events is called “Santa Marathon”. The event takes place on 25th December. It is the largest running event. During this event, all registered runners get Santa outfit for the run and start running around the city while enjoying the sweets smiles of the citizens.

Santa Marathon

Many Armenians prefer leaving for cozy resorts to escape from the active messy. They prefer to celebrate New Year only with family or friends in a dynamic and modern way. The best resorts are in Tsaghkadzor, Jermuk, Dilijan, Aghveran, Arzni, and Stepanavan. If you like family gatherings, warm and hospitable atmosphere, mount-watering food, and have a strong stomach, Armenian Christmas and New Year will become real magic for the tourist like you.

Published Dec. 25, 2018
Article by Elen Sargsyan

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