Armenian New Year is the most anticipated, bright and magical event for Armenian families, local Armenians in Armenia and of course those around the world. Get ready to say “Happy New Year in Armenia” when you visit Armenia.
In many countries, New Year’s celebrations begin on the evening of December 31st and continue throughout the next day of January 1st. There are some New Year’s customs that are common in many countries, like traditional New Year dishes, special organized parties, fireworks, etc.
On the other hand, every country has its unique and beautiful customs and traditions of celebrating New Year. If you want to learn some interesting facts about the way Armenians celebrate their New Year, then keep on reading. Here, you will find basic information about Armenian New Year.
Armenian New Year Celebration
Throughout the history, Armenia had three dates of celebrating New Year:
Kaghand in Armenia was celebrated on the 21st of March.
Navasard was celebrated on the 11th of August. The date was not chosen randomly. That is the day when the founder of Armenian nation Hayk Nahapet defeated Titanid Bel.
Nonetheless, after the calendar reform in the 18th century, January 1st was accepted as the beginning of the New Year.
Obviously, New Year is the most anticipated and significant event in Armenia. As this holiday marks the beginning of a new year, people have high hopes and expectations that New Year will be a good start of a new page in their lives.
Throughout years, Armenian New Year’s customs and traditions haven’t changed a lot but, surely, have been upgraded.
Without any exaggeration, we can say that the most important part of new year celebration in Armenia is the table.
Armenian new year’s table should be rich and luxurious regardless how much is the income of the family. Many families, that have a small income, start to save money a few months earlier, in order to be ready for New year table shopping.
The preparation starts a week, or for some people, two weeks before December 31st. This is very typical for Armenians to do the shopping and prepare dishes and presents ahead of time, so they are relaxed that everything is ready on time.
Armenian New Year: Guest-Host Tradition
There is a very typical Armenian tradition and a kind of events in New year’s celebration. It’s called guest-host tradition. Usually, in other countries, people celebrate new year for one or two days and then go back to their usual daily routine.
In Armenia, New year celebration starts on December 31st late at night and the event continues for the whole week. When it’s 12 o’clock, family members congratulate each other, drink something and then, “guest-host chain” starts.
People visit each other’s houses during the whole week. There is even a special chronological order of visiting houses. Everything starts with the most honorable people. For example, a person always visits his/her parents’ house the first, godfathers/godmothers come the second and so on.
This is probably one of the most unique events regarding Christmas in the world.
Specifications of Guest-Host Tradition
If you ever visit an Armenian house during new year, you’ll probably notice, that housewives try to desperately please their guests. These is this interesting sort of competition between housewives: who cooks better? who decorates the house better?
There are certain dishes, that people always have on their new year’s table, which can be found in every house. When you are a guest, you’d be told, that this dish is absolutely special and is made in a totally different way. Women like to boast off their special talent of cooking.
It’s kind of an unwritten rule to manage visits to as many places as possible, so nobody will be offended. Yes! You read it right! People may be offended, if they consider themselves close to your family and you don’t visit their house.
There is an interesting superstition connected with this guest-host tradition. They say, that if the year turns out to be prosperous and successful, that means the first guest of that year had the most honest and genuine intentions and wishes and brought luck to the family.
To many people, the guest-host tradition may seem a little bit odd, but in reality, it is a great chance to visit relatives and friends that they haven’t met for ages.
Armenian New Year: Traditional Table
The country that has a special guest-host tradition, of course, also has special dishes for New Year’s table like a party. There are some must-have dishes and delicacies that have symbolic significance for Armenian families.
Guests cannot leave the table with the feeling of hunger, because, as a rule, they should eat everything that housewives offer, otherwise they will be offended.
It is pleasant for housewives not only to mention, but also hear that their dish was the tastiest among everything that they have ever tried.
On the Armenian New Year party table, you can find meat appetizers, different salads. The most popular is “Olivier” salad. There are also various dried fruits, pastry, fruit, nuts and, of course, the famous Armenian sudjukh.
There is an interesting and very old tradition connected with pastries. The eldest family member, mainly grandmother, hides a coin in it and the family member who finds the piece with the hidden coin is considered to be the luckiest family member of the year.
Armenian New Year: Traditional Dishes
As we already mentioned, there are many dishes that almost all housewives make for the Armenian New Year party. Let’s discover three most typical Armenian dishes that illustrate the rich flavors of Armenian cuisine.
The first one, without any doubt, is pork ham. This dish is already so much iconic, that there are many jokes about it. Without the presence of the pork ham there is no feeling of New Year.
One of the other “jewels” of Armenian cuisine is dolma.
Another amazing and extraordinary dish for the Armenian New Year’s table is Pasuts Dolma.
Armenian New Year: City and House Decoration for the party
The capital of Armenia, Yerevan, transfers into some magical and colorful city during the New Year holidays.
The city is decorated with all sorts of festive lights and garlands, and it is especially pleasant to see how the decorated trees create the atmosphere of some magic. In front of some shops you can see Santa Clauses and other thematic decorations. The main New Year tree of the Republic Square is sat 10 days before the new year.
The decoration of houses during new year is also an important aspect of the celebration. New Year’s home decoration is really something long-awaited and special not only for children, but also for adults.
It is a great chance to gather with all family members and make the house decoration more cheerful and pleasant. The decoration usually starts six days before the New Year party but for some impatient people it may start even some days earlier.
If you feel like you are interested in the way Armenians spend their New Year, then don’t hesitate and come to Armenia for making more vivid, bright impressions and memories for the New Year holiday.
We guarantee you that it won’t be boring at all! And also, prepare yourself for eating a lot of yummies.
Happy New Year in Armenia!
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