Technically and climatologically speaking February is the last month of winter and the shortest one in year. While speaking of February we first of all think of the coming new season – spring, which seems to be a promise of new birth, expectations and new spirits.
Tiarn’ndaraj (Trndez known among people) is a traditional holiday specified by the Armenian national and Church Calendar which is observed on February. Tiarn’ndaraj has gained great popularity among people, but besides being a national one this holiday tradition has deep roots slightly connected with the church.
Tiarn’ndaraj (the Feast of the Lord’s Presentation to the Temple) is an immovable holiday celebrated on February 14 every year. It is ranked to the feasts of Lord (i.e. feasts symbolizing the remembrance of Lord’s directorates) together with the feasts such as Annunciation, Birth, Baptism, Feast of Naming of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Feast of Transfiguration, Palm Sunday, Last Supper, Crucifixion, Resurrection, Ascension and Pentecost. According to the work “Feasts of the Armenian Holy Apostolic Church”, “After 40 days staying in Bethlehem the infant Christ was brought to Jerusalem by Mary and Joseph to be presented to God. It was getting dark when they approached the temple, and east door of the temple, which was closed for a long time, opened immediately, and the words of prophet Ezekiel who predicted this, came true.” People ran to the temple to see the infant Jesus, and as it was dark they had torches and lamps on their hands.
While the activities of Tiarn’ndaraj might have changed, its symbols live on, and every year in the tradition of the Church, Evening Services (Nakhatonak) are conducted on the night preceding the Feast Day; i.e. February 13. At the conclusion of the service, the priest lights a candle from the Holy Altar, and distributes the flame to all present. Many additional customs have been inherited from the past, including the prediction of weather, the blessing of newlywed couples, as well as offering prayers for the fertility of the fields, and jumping over the fire. These homemade ones are traced to the Paganism, though according to the Church rules this “jumping over the fire” inadmissible and does not have any connection to the feast. It is a tradition widely known among the people.
Somehow, the feast is a favourite one, which is celebrated with triumph and enjoyment, as this is also a feast of love and fidelity. The morning of the Feast Day, Divine Liturgy is celebrated in Armenian Churches throughout the world. The hymn offered during the Liturgy commemorating Tiarn’ndaraj glorifies the articulation of “a Light to lighten the Gentiles”, furthermore the ceremony of blessing of couples is held.