Let’s celebrate New Year and Christmas in hospitable Armenia!

As it is well-known that the New Year Eve is one of the most celebrated holidays around the world, and like most of the countries, Armenia celebrates the New Year on the 1st of January. Furthermore, it is among the most anticipated holidays for the Armenian families.
The children wait for it with a special excitement. Whereas there are old traditions of celebrating New Year and Christmas kept till nowadays. Some of the customs come from Soviet times and they are similar to the ones in Russia and former USSR. Some typical Armenian traditions appear with modern elements.

The Armenians start preparing for the New Year Eve several weeks in advance. They spend a lot of time on the shopping and decorations. Armenians have a wonderful tradition to celebrate New Year with the family. Whereas all the family members are busy with preparation, mothers with cook and bake, fathers and children decorate the Christmas tree (tonatsar in Armenian).
Whenever everything is ready with the approach of midnight, the celebrations begin. The hospitable Armenians visit each other during the night and in upcoming days. They exchange gifts and sincere wishes with their neighbors and relatives, taste some food. Especially, the savory Armenian “Dolma”, which is made of grape leaves and it is an important part of the traditional dinner. Among other traditional foods include meat snacks and various salads.
The dessert consists of eastern pastries, fruits, various nuts and a traditional sweet called “Sudjukh” – walnuts that are threaded and soaked in grape or mulberry syrup. Another important tradition of the Armenian New Year is “Gata”. It is a big flat bread with a coin hidden inside it. However, the person who finds the coin in their piece of “Gata” will be the luckiest during the upcoming year.
All year long the children are looking forward to Santa Claus, who brings them gifts in the evening of December 31st. Previously, Santa Claus was called “Kaghand Papik”, but later he was renamed and now everyone in Armenia knows him as “Dzmer Papik” (Winter Grandfather).
The outside decoration of the house is also quite important. Christmas trees are popping up all over Yerevan. They are the main decoration of the houses, streets, as well as commercial centers. They bring color to the city during the festive season. The main Christmas Tree in the Republic Square is one of the most famous in Yerevan. It brightens up the square and brings the season to life.
During the recent years, it has become a tradition to celebrate New Year in Tsaghkadzor – the ski resort of Armenia. Sometimes several families rent a house and spend a week at the popular resort, enjoying the snow, skiing and spending a nice time with friends.
The Christmas (Surb Tsnund, meaning “Holy Birth”) is also an important holiday for Armenians. It is celebrated on the 6th of January. On Christmas Eve almost everyone goes to the church and brings consecrated fire to their homes (a lighted candle that will clean the house from dark spirits).
Why don’t Armenians celebrate Christmas on December 25th as the rest of the world do? Historically, until the 4th century, all Christian churches celebrated Christ’s birth on January 6th. Nowadays, Armenia is among those few countries, which follow the tradition and continue to celebrate Christmas on that day.
Devout Armenians are fast during the week leading up to Christmas. Throughout this period, they avoid eating meat, eggs and dairy products. On Christmas Eve, all the family members gather for the special dinner (khetum in Armenian), which consists of rice with dried fruits or raisins, fish, a vegetable dish with green chard and chick peas (called Nevik), wheat soup (Tanapur) and red wine. The dessert includes flavorful dried fruits and nuts.
During the recent years, it has become a nice tradition to organize Christmas markets in Yerevan. Taking up a festive space in the city center, these markets represent everything from winter comfort food to traditional crafts.
Previously there was a tradition of celebrating the Old New Year, which has been kept in such countries as Armenia, Georgia, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. In Armenia, people are celebrating the Old New Year on January 13. On that day, they gather together to have a nice dinner with relatives or friends.
These holidays are a real fairy tale in Armenia. Every inch of the city is decked with lights, trees and boughs, and every street and corner is filled with festive chalets and delicious scents of the season. There are a lot of interesting activities in the capital, which can attract both children and their parents. One of these activities is skating. The ice skating rinks in central Yerevan help every passionate skater to spend a magical time and get into the seasonal spirit.
Overall, Christmas is the holiday that brings people together and makes us happy. We want to express our best wishes to those who have given us their preference for all this time. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to our customers!