National Holidays and Festivals
Winemaking in Armenia started since the legendary times of Noah, who planted a grapevine at the foot of Ararat mountain. The Wine Festival in Artsakh emphasizes the significant role of the drink in Armenian culture and gives a fantastic opportunity to enjoy the exquisite taste of the local wine.
The festival is celebrated on the third Saturday of September, which symbolizes the end of summer and the beginning of the harvest season. The event takes place in one of the most picturesque villages in Artsakh in Togh, within the territory of the palace of the XVI century prince Yeghan. Each year within the frame of the festival, the guests have an opportunity to enjoy concerts, a fair of works of applied arts, treats, and various exhibitions. The event is attended by dozens of wine-producing companies.
Artsakh Airfest is the most colorful event in Artsakh, full of positive energy and emotions. On the day of the festival, Stepanakert airport becomes one of the most breathtaking places in Artsakh. The participants of the festival can observe the spectacular air show with airplanes, helicopters, balloons, and skydivers, as well as ride them. In the evening after the end of the show, an outdoor party is held. The festival raises adrenaline, and you feel closer to the sun. Besides, the spectacular views of Artsakh make this day unforgettable.
Jengyalov Hats is considered to be one of the most nutritious and delicious dishes of Artsakh cuisine. It is a type of flatbread with greens and various herbs. The program of the festival includes degustation and cultural, entertaining events. The key component is the flatbread itself, the guests can follow the preparation as well as personally participate in the preparation process.
Artsakh is a country with great agricultural potential and producing highly eco-friendly products. Each year, on the 2nd Sunday of October, the Harvest Festival takes place on the Renaissance Square, Stepanakert. At fairs, you can buy and taste farm products from more than 200 suppliers: vegetables, fruits, dairy products, preserves, alcoholic beverages, honey and much more.
Pomegranate represents a vital role in the Artsakh culture and is one of its symbols. This crop is extremely prevalent in the region. Here pomegranate fields and groves are planted everywhere. Every year, in the autumn in the Martuni region, a "Pomegranate Festival" is held, where farmers and producing companies illustrate the generous fruits of the harvest and a vast number of pomegranate products (wines, juices, sauces, etc.). During the festival, you can visit concerts, exhibitions of applied art, workshops and other entertainment events.
May 9 is a triple holiday in Artsakh: Victory Day in the Second World War, Shushi Liberation Day and the founding day of the Defense Army of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. On this day, festive events are held throughout the republic: ceremonial parades of military convoys, a demonstration of military equipment, honor ceremonies, cultural and sports events, exhibitions, and many others. State officials and public figures visit the Stepanakert Memorial Complex, where they pay tribute to the heroes who fell in the Great Patriotic and Karabakh Wars, then lay flowers at the mass graves of veterans. A military parade takes place on Renaissance Square in Stepanakert.
Independence Day is regarded as one of the most ceremonious holidays of Artsakh. Annually, solemn marches of military columns are held in Artsakh on September 2, and a flower laying ceremony is held at the Memorial Complex in Stepanakert, as well as at the monuments to fallen heroes in the republic. On the Renaissance Square in Stepanakert, a gala concert is held with the participation of local and foreign artists. Traditionally, the holiday ends with an impressive firework.
Originally, the Armenians celebrated the new year (Arm. Amanor) on March 21 in the agricultural cycle. An analog of the New Year tree in Armenian culture was the "tree of life," which was made from wheat straw. Since the end of the XVIII century the holiday began to be celebrated according to European custom. On New Year's Eve, from the beginning of December, the capital of the republic is being decorated, fairs with Christmas trees open, trade of Christmas decorations, souvenirs, and various delicacies begins. The holiday itself is celebrated in Artsakh in the family gathering, and then close relatives and friends visit each other to celebrate New Year. The main dish of the Artsakh New Year's table is a traditional barbecue (khorovac), so on New Year's Eve, all the corners of the republic attract with their mouth-watering barbecue smell. The central festival tree is situated on Renaissance Square in Stepanakert.
Armenians strongly respect Christian traditions; therefore, Easter and Christmas in Artsakh are the main holidays.
In many countries of the world, the celebration of Christmas and Epiphany was divided into two dates. The Armenian church, however, has preserved its traditions and to this day, celebrates Christmas on the night of January 5 to sixth. On Christmas Eve, residents of the country visit temples, from where they bring home the Christmas fire. The holiday itself is celebrated at home with the family. Traditionally, fish, pilaf, and red wine are served on the table.
On Easter Day, servants of the Artsakh Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church, headed by the leader of the Diocese, hold the Holy Easter Liturgy. Residents of the Republic attend church, and then celebrate the holiday at home with their families. The Easter table serves colored eggs, boiled fish, pilaf, greens, and wine.
One of the most joyous events in Artsakh and Armenia is the celebration of Vardavar, preserved since pagan times. After the adoption of Christianity, it was dedicated to the celebration of the Transfiguration of the Lord. Initially, Vardavar was connected with the cult of the goddess of love, the water element, and the fertility of Astghik. The name of the holiday originates from the words "vard" (rose) and "var" (bright). The foremost tradition of the holiday is the massive pouring of water on everyone and everywhere - on the streets, in shops, in transport, from balconies and windows. The explanations of the connection of roses with the holiday are varied, but according to the Armenian church, the tradition of dousing each other with rose water is an imitation of the bathing of the goddess Astghik. Nowadays, the holiday is celebrated 14 weeks after Easter (falls on the hottest summer days) and is one of the five most significant holidays of the Armenian Apostolic Church - religious services are held in churches. For dousing, water guns, irrigation hoses, buckets, etc. are used. No offense is accepted - it is believed that the water is pure on this day, so it is simply impossible to remain dry on this day without positive emotions. Even though people celebrate Vardavar everywhere, the official celebration is concentrated in the Tigranakert historical and cultural reserve, where theatrical performances, music programs, national games, and other celebrations are organized.
According to the Gregorian calendar, on April 7, the Armenian Apostolic Church marks the Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In compliance with legend, on this day the archangel Gabriel was sent by God to Nazareth to the Virgin Mary with the news of the impending birth of the Savior of the world from her. Since 1995, on the same day the blessing of motherhood also started to be celebrated. The idea of this holiday was due to an effort to abolish the celebration of International Women's Day on March 8 after the collapse of the USSR. However, March 8 is celebrated in Artsakh and in Armenia to this day, therefore, the period from March 8 to April 7, is considered by Armenians as a month of praising women. During this period, men congratulate women, present them with flowers and gifts, thank and admire them, and on April 7, rituals of blessing pregnant women are held in churches.