Vardavar is one of the most joyful and loved holidays in Armenia. It is a beyond doubt the most favorite for kids and strangest for newcomers seeing unusual scenes of groups of children or teenagers coming up to people walking in the streets and pouring pails of water over them. By the way, you may be “honored” the same privilege if happened to be in one of the tense areas on that special day and noticed by young water spill “hunters”.
Vardavar is one of the most joyful and loved holidays in Armenia. It is a beyond doubt the most favorite for kids and strangest for newcomers seeing unusual scenes of groups of children or teenagers coming up to people walking in the streets and pouring pails of water over them. By the way, you may be “honored” the same privilege if happened to be in one of the tense areas on that special day and noticed by young water spill “hunters”. Armenia is probably the only place in the world where this tradition is not, and cannot even be disputed, complained to police or protested. Once in the awkward situation, with clothes all in water, people have nothing to do but just smile and laugh deep from the heart. It is the successive 14th Sunday of Saint Easter in Armenia, when people celebrate a religious holiday, the so-called Vardavar. And this tradition of spilling water on each other dates back from the ancient times (the holiday is preserved on Sundays from June 28 till August the 2nd).
According to an ancient legend pagan Goddess Astghik was spreading love on the Armenian soil by spilling water from roses. Since the adoption of Christianity, the holiday has undergone minor changes and is currently associated with well-known event of the Christ’s transfiguration; the moment when he appeared to his disciples on Mount Tabor in the enhanced appearance. According to different sources, Vardavar holiday is also associated to the World Flood and Noah’s decent from the Ark.
Vardavar is also one of the oldest Armenian holidays. It started being celebrated since pagan Armenians time and, furthermore by Christian Armenians. The event has always been signified by spilling water on each other. According to a tradition, Armenian religious period “Navasard” starts on the day when Noah finds himself as a refuge on the Mount Ararat after the Flood and descends down from the top. Therefore, Noah instructs his sons to spill the water on each other as a sign of memory of the Flood.
During the holiday’s celebration Armenians were collecting the wheat-ears in the fields and taking them to the church for a blessing to keep the fields away from the hail and damages. Girls would collect multi-colored bouquets of flowers and would throw them to the gardens and yards of their community neighbors.
Vardavar used to be a noteworthy and brilliant holiday in the past: young people would make fires and get for the circle dancing “shurjpar”. The dances were accompanied with songs, plays and jokes. On the mornings of following days, ladies would visit the houses and would collect presents for the flowers they have thrown to neighbor’s yards.
Another remarkable and important tradition of Vardavar was the ceremony of making the pigeons fly. They were grown up throughout the whole year particularly for Vardavar holiday and left free to the sky. The audience has been admiring the scenery and were proud of trainers.
The main traditional celebration of Vardavar of pouring water on each other is well preserved nowadays. Travelers may observe throughout the daytime how young and old, men and women, children and adults, friends and strangers, collect water in their pails and spill it on each other. There is no offence and insult; this is simply a tradition; and thanks God it is a high summer season and very hot outside. You are welcome to come and observe it, and not only; take part and join to this amazing fun, feel young and happy!