Trndez, a Zoroastrian holiday celebrating the advent of spring and fertility, traces its origins to ancient pre-Christian Armenian sun and fire veneration. It will occur across the country on Valentine’s Day Eve (February 13), 40 days after Jesus’ birth, according to the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Armenian Catholic Church.
Amidst the vibrant tapestry of folk customs in Armenia, the grand commemoration of “Trndez” (also known as Tyarndarach or Candlemas Day) unfolds with great pomp and enthusiasm annually, eagerly anticipated by all, particularly the youth and newlyweds.
Just like any other festive occasion, Trndez boasts a delightful speciality – “aghandz” – a delectable blend of roasted wheat grains, hemp, sesame seeds, peas, and occasionally, raisins, creating a luscious dessert medley. In addition, an assortment of confections, cookies, halva, and dried fruits is generously shared among the gathered attendees, adding a foodie element to the enchanting allure of the event.
The traditional observance of Trndez remains virtually unchanged in modern times, preserving its age-old customs and rituals.
A pivotal ceremony unfolds during the festivities – a jubilant bonfire is kindled within the church courtyards. On the evening of February 13th, following the church’s vespers, a remarkable spectacle transpires as congregants convene outside. Here, a profound moment unfolds as the clergy presents candles, aglow with sacred light from the altar, which are then employed to ignite the bonfire.
As the flames ascend and blaze fervently, participants join hands, partaking in a ceremonial circumambulation around the fire, revolving seven times. Subsequently, as the fervour of the fire subsides, individuals leap over the flames thrice, an act imbued with the hope of being touched by the flickering tongues. Newlyweds partake in this tradition, followed by the esteemed godfather and godmother, who also embrace the opportunity to leap over the bonfire. At times, the godfather clasps the hands of the bride and groom, leading them in a joint leap over the fiery expanse.
The euphoria of the festivity persists into the following day, on February 14th.
Trndez Folk Beliefs
Participants of all ages partake in the tradition of jumping over the bonfire, accompanied by songs and dances specific to the occasion. They join hands, sing, dance, encircle the fire, or meticulously count the seven circles before leaping over it. Some even gather the smouldering embers from the fire to transport home and ignite smaller bonfires in their gardens. Trndez is a jubilation of love that intertwines with sun and fire veneration in ancient pre-Christian Armenia, embodying the arrival of spring and fertility.
- If the sacred fire comes into contact with the newlywed couple as they leap over it, they will soon be blessed with a child.
- Single people may anticipate an impending marriage if the flames reach them.
- Believers scatter the ashes from the bonfire at the corners of their abodes to secure prosperity throughout the year.
- Trndez ash underneath broods helps chickens hatch unharmed.
- Children cradle a hen in their arms beside the fire, believing this custom will help the hen lay more eggs.
- Following the smoke’s direction, unmarried individuals can discern where they may find their romantic partner.
- For the married, the direction of the bonfire’s smoke may reveal from which direction they can anticipate success and good fortune.
- Elders assert a bountiful harvest if the smoke billows towards the South or East. A meagre harvest is on the horizon if the smoke drifts to the North or West.
The Christian observance of the feast of Tyarndarach, translating to “to come to meet the Lord,” draws inspiration from a passage in the Gospel of Luke (2:25-35). It recounts the profound encounter of Simeon, an aged and devout man who received a divine revelation from the Holy Spirit, foretelling that he would not depart from this world until he had laid eyes upon baby Jesus. Simeon, guided by the Holy Spirit, cradled the newborn in his arms, heralding the fulfilment of his prophetic vision:
Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”Luke 2:25-35
While the modern manifestation of this celebration aligns with Christian traditions, Trndez’s roots are firmly entrenched in paganism, specifically in pre-Christian Armenia, where it was intricately connected to the adoration of Vahagn, the embodiment of Fire and the Sun. Trndez served as a triumphant ode to the reawakening of nature, with the fervent flames symbolizing the triumph over winter’s icy grip as the gradual transition to warmer weather follows the festivities.