Dates of Easter in Armenia
Armenians Easter falls on a different day each year. Easter in Armenia is spent on different days of the year. It is calculated with the Lunar calendar.
Equinox falls on March 21, it is the day where the lengths of day and night become equal. Easter is a week after the first full moon after the equinox on March 21.
Leading up to Easter in Armenia
Lent in the Armenian Apostolic Church is a 48-day-long fast, where those fasting are permitted to eat only plant-based, vegan foods. Meat and dairy are excluded from the person’s diet until Easter day, when they break the fast.
Mijinq (միջինք), which translates to “the middle,” is the day that the Big Lent splits in half. On this day, a sweet bread-like pastry is baked, called a Gata. A coin is put in the Gata. After it is prepared, slices are cut for each person and the person who gets the coin is said to have luck for the rest of the year.
Tsaghkazard translates to “decorated with flowers” and it is the day that Jesus Christ enters Jerusalem. Willow branches are intertwined together to look like a round crown. The significance of the willow is that it represents fertility, abundance and life. The origins of Tsaghkazard date back to pre-Christian Armenia, when the arrival of spring was celebrated. On this day, people used to tie small cloths to trees for their wishes to come true.
On the day of Tsaghkazard, engagement was also commonplace. The man’s mother would make a deal with bride-to-be’s mother, and she [the man’s mother] would take a candle, light it, put the engagement ring on the lit candle and give it to the bride-to-be.
Dolls, called “Nuri” dolls, were made from straws or wood, as well as cloth and beads. These dolls also symbolized abundance and fertility.
What People do on Easter in Armenia
On Saturday, the day before the Easter, a mass takes place at 5 p.m., and people go to the church and bring home the Holy Fire with a candlelight. On Saturday night, fish, rice with raisins are prepared and red wine is served, which symbolizes the blood of Jesus Christ.
On Easter Sunday, people attend mass in the church in the morning. On that day, eggs are boiled and, traditionally, are supposed to be colored in the color red only. However, most people nowadays paint eggs in different colors.
People take the eggs and have a battle with the colored eggs to see who’s egg is the ‘strongest’.
A ‘Nshkhar’ (Նշխար) is given to attendees of the mass on Easter Sunday morning. It is a small piece of flatbread (lavash), usually dipped in red wine, which is given to each attendee by the priest.
Sprouted wheat is grown days prior to Easter Sunday, where eggs are put on Easter Day. This tradition of growing sprouted wheat is also present in Persian culture, and it is grown for the Persian New Year, Nowruz.