Armenian Easter is the most beloved Christian holiday in Armenia and among Armenian diaspora. It has tones of interesting traditions, food, games, etc. In other words, it has everything to be called the coolest holiday season!
We have to start this article with the most cliché sentence used about Armenia.
It is the oldest Christian country in the world. Yes, Armenians paid a huge price for not converting into Islam and saving Christianity in their very complex region. But let’s not dig into that now. It’s a whole another story, we promise to come back to this some other time.
Today’s theme is much more exciting, colorful, yet pretty much religious – the Armenian Easter!
Well, for all Christian countries Easter has the same signification. It’s the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Armenian Apostolic Church is not an exception in this. But, not being identical to Catholic, Orthodox and other Christian churches, Armenian apostolic church has some of its own traditions of celebrating Easter.
Visiting church, lent prior to Easter, funny games, colorful eggs, bread, greens and all the goodies make Armenian Easter very enjoyable, even if you’re not interested in religious part.
So, stay with us and let’s find out what is it like to celebrate Easter in Armenia!
Armenian Easter Can’t Be Compared to Any Other Holiday!
To start with, let us find the date of celebration and some other general stuff about Armenian Easter.
Whether it will be a professional social poll, or just a question to your Armenian friends, the answer will be the same – Easter is traditionally the most widely celebrated and beloved Christian holiday in Armenia. It even takes over Christmas.
By the way, Easter is only the English term for this holiday. If you are in Armenia, then just friendly call it “Zatik”. This is the Armenian term for Easter and it’s interesting to know that Zatik also means a ladybug, a small little, cute ladybug. Let’s be honest, ladybugs are the most beautiful among all insects.
It’s safe to say, the word Zatik is used among people, but the Christian term for this holiday is “Harutyan Ton”, which means “The Holiday of Resurrection”.
Try to remember this and greet your Armenian friends with this phrase. You’ll see how pleasantly surprised they’ll be.
How Does Armenian Easter Take Over Other Holidays?
There are many explanations to this. In Armenia and many other Orthodox countries, Christmas is celebrated in January 6 or 7, which means New Year celebration comes first, unlike Catholic holidays. So, all the energy and festive preparations are spent on New year and Christmas is welcomed nicely, but quietly.
Unlike Christmas, Armenian Easter is one of a kind holiday. It is the first biggest holiday in Spring. As we know, spring is the time for life. Everything blossoms, it feels like the nature awakes from a deep winter sleep, so do our souls. It’s the time for everyone to feel alive and energetic. Easter is inspired by this lively soul, it’s more colorful and has fun traditions.
For Armenians Easter is also THE ONLY happy holiday in April. May, for example, is known as the month of victories and holidays and it’s also the closing season for schools. So, there is a lot for people to be happy in May. But April is known as the opposite. Armenian Genocide memorial date is in April, 4-day April war and some other sad historical events happen to be in April.
But, as it is said, it is the phenomenon of life- dark is always followed by light! Sad April is followed by victorious May. But even in the sad symbolism of April, Easter fulfills all the empty spaces in people’s hearts and every year it becomes the most joyful day of the month!
Now the Fun Part – Lively Traditions and Food of Armenian Easter!
As every Easter table, Armenian Easter table has its own traditions and dishes. There are many dishes that nowadays people can put on the Easter table, but there are certain things that are always present.
We can’t say Armenians eat rice as often and as delicately as people in Asia, but during Easter rice is a must! Armenians simply cook an ordinary rice and then mix some sweet dried fruits with it. They cook dried fruits in the butter beforehand and then mix it with the rice. It seems not to make sense mixing rice with sweet things, but believe us- it’s awesome!
There are million types of greens in Armenia and sometimes it seems that all of them are on Easter table. Some greens like coriander, tarragon, green onions are served raw. But there are some greens that should be boiled, or cooked with eggs. All these beauties are accompanied with Armenian lavash.
Fish is also one of the most symbolic and typical Armenian Easter dishes. There is no a one specific recipe for making an Easter fish. So, everyone has on the table whatever they like. Some, just boil it and serve with potatoes, others put it in the oven, some may even do a fish barbeque.
Armenian Easter Bread
Except from lavash, there is another type of bread that is the most popular during Easter. It’s the Armenian Easter bread, which is called Chorek.
But’s it’s a sweet bread, sweet Brioche bun. It’s especially loved by kinds, even though their mommies try to make sure they don’t overeat sweets those days. Chorek is a rather sweet and puff bread, that’s why it’s not an everyday dish, but is made once a year, during Armenian Easter.
How to Make Armenian Easter Fun with Eggs?
There is interesting tradition of cracking the eggs during Easter. Each person sitting at the table takes one egg, then chooses a player for him/her and then they hit both eggs. The one whose egg cracks looses.
But don’t worry, if you’re not the winner it doesn’t mean a bad luck, or something. It’s just a fun part of the eating process.
Usually, on Monday, the day after the Easter, Armenian students take a few eggs with them to school and play the same game with their classmates. In this case, the one who wins, takes both of the eggs. Wonder why? Because he will have those eggs for lunch!
Symbolic Grass Sprouts of the Armenian Easter
Prior to Easter, Armenian families have a tradition to “grow grass” for Armenian Easter. This is a symbolic grass. During Easter, dyed eggs are placed around, or right on the top of the grass. It is an extremely easy thing to do.
Fun and Cool Ways of Dying and Decorating Eggs for Armenian Easter
The tradition of dying eggs is not typical only for Armenian Easter, many other Christian countries do the same. Here is how Armenians do it.
As we live in a modern world, today new technologies, recipes and methods make everything easy for us. But it has not always been like that.
Many years ago, when there was no food coloring, Armenians used to dye eggs with the help of red onion shell. All you need to do is to put a lot of red onion shell in a boiling water, then carefully place the eggs in the bowl and cook it. The result will be nicely cooked, red eggs.
This dying method is still alive today. The majority of Armenians dye Easter eggs just like this, even though they may also have some eggs dyed with diverse food colorings. The more colorful the table, the better!
Church Liturgy and Other Religious Ceremonies for Armenian Easter
On the day of Easter special Easter liturgy is held in Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, as well as in other churches. We can’t say all Armenians necessarily take part in liturgy, but that doesn’t mean any disrespect to religion. There just are people who are more religious and those people are present.
But there is another part of church ceremony when the majority of people try to be involved. That is getting the holy lighted candle. In the evening of Saturday, holy light is fired, which people should take home. It is not necessary for everybody to take it from the church, it can be done by one family member. The main aim is to get a candle of a holy light home.
This ceremony also has an interesting tradition. Many people, especially young people, take candles from the church, walk to the Republic square and nicely put those candle on the ground and move back. Those candles stay there until they are gone. As it is done after the sunset, the dark sky and burning candles create a very beautiful view.
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