• Lilit Grigoryan
My name is Lilit and I was born in Dilijan, a beautiful resort in Armenia. Traveling is my main hobby and I spend much time exploring Armenia and the world. Someone buys a car, another may take a mortgage loan, but I invest in traveling!
Trndez – Celebration of Love and Faith

Celebration of Feast of Trndez, Armenia / Photo: Anahit Adamyan

Trndez – Celebration of Love and Faith

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Among the folk traditions in Armenia, celebrated with splendor every year, the feast of "Trndez" (Tyarndarach) is much anticipated by everyone, especially by youth and newlyweds as it is believed that during the celebration of Trndez it is possible to predict whether one will get married, or will a newlywed couple have a child, or will the year be rich in harvest.

Although today it is largely celebrated as a Christian feast, Tnrdez has pagan origins and in pre-Christian Armenia, it was associated with the worship of Vahagn, the god of Fire and the Sun. Trndez was celebrated as nature awakening festival. By the strength of the fire people tried to break the winter's cold. It was believed that the weather was getting warmer after the feast.

Armenians celebrating the feast of Trndez

Celebration of Trndez in Armenia / Photo: Qahana.am

The Christian tradition of celebrating of the feast of Tyarndarach, translated as "to come to meet the Lord", refers to an episode from the Gospel of Luke. It describes an old and devout man named Simeon who had a revelation from the Holy Spirit that he will die only after seeing the Saviour. During the presentation of the 40-day-old Jesus at the temple in Jerusalem, Simeon, led by the Holy Spirit to the temple, took Jesus in his arms, proclaiming that now he has seen the Saviour.

Today, the folk customs of celebrating Trndez are almost the same as in the past.

One of the key events that takes place during the celebration of Trndez, is the festive bonfire set in the yards of the churches. On the eve of February 13th, right after the evening service in the church, people gather outside to witness a very special moment - priests bring out candles lit from the altar, and with the help of the newlyweds they light up the bonfire.

Armenian priest lights candles in a church

Armenian priest lights candles on a church altar / Photo: Anahit Adamyan

As the fire burns higher and is still very strong, people hold each other's hands, circling around it for seven times and then when the fire comes down people jump over it three times, hoping that the flames will touch them. After the newlyweds, the godfather and godmother take the chance to jump over the bonfire. And sometimes the godfather takes the hands of the groom and the bride in his hands and they jump over the fire together. The celebration of the feast continues the next day, on February 14th.

There are many folk beliefs associated with Trndez celebration. If, for instance, the sacred fire touches the newlywed couple as they jump over it, it is said that they will have a child soon. As for the unmarried, the tradition says they'll marry soon, if the flames reach them. People of all ages jump over the bonfire, accompanied by special songs and dances specific for the day. They hold hands, sing, dance, circle around the fire, or simply count the seven circles before they jump over it. And some even try to collect the coals with the fire to take home and set a bonfire at their gardens.

Armenian people gathered around festive bonfire to celebrate the feast of Trndez

People gathered around bonfire to celebrate the feast of Trndez / Photo: Anahit Adamyan

Other beliefs are related to the fire, smoke and the ash. For example, people put the ashes of the bonfire at the corners of their homes with the hope that they’ll have much success during the year, or they put the ash under the brood expecting the chicken to hatch uninjured. For the same reason, kids may even take a hen in their arms and stand next to the fire expecting the hen to lay more eggs.

As for the smoke, it is believed that following its direction, those who are unmarried will know in which direction can they find their love. And if you're already married, the direction of smoke of the bonfire may show you where to expect the success and luck from. Elders say that if the smoke blows to the South or to the East, then people can expect wealthy harvest, but if the smoke blows to the North or to the West, get ready for the poor harvest.

Celebration of the feast of Trndez in Armenia

Celebration of Trndez in Armenia / Photo: Qahana.am

As in every other festival, Trndez also has a special treat - “aghandz” – roasted grains of wheat mixed with roasted hemp and sesame seeds, peas, and sometimes raisins, making a sweet dessert mixture. Other sweets and cookies as well as halva and dried fruits are shared with the people gathered around the bonfire.

P.S. Last year, I participated in the celebration of the Trndez at the St. John the Baptist church in Yerevan where a big bonfire was set up. I have tried to jump over it, and even though the flames reached me and I burnt my shoe, I am still single.