Trndez or Drentez is an ancient Armenian festival for love and marriage. It is a national holiday, which is connected with fire. Armenians celebrate it on February 14. Yes, it does fall on Valentine’s day!
This holiday is highly anticipated by everyone, especially by young people and newlyweds. The reason behind it is that, according to the tradition, during the celebration of Trndez it is possible to predict if one will get married or not. Or, whether the newlyweds will soon have a child, or will the year bring rich harvest.
Another name for the holiday is “Tearn’ndaraj” (Candlemas Day).
In ancient times, when parents had their first child, they took him to the temple right when the baby was 40 days old.
According to a gospel, 40 days after the birth of Christ, Mary and Joseph took the baby to Jerusalem in order to present him to the Lord and also to consecrate to the temple.
They met an old and devout man named Simeon. He had asked God to give him a long life so that he could see the Son of God, the Saviour.
Simeon, during the presentation of the 40-day-old baby Jesus at the Jerusalem temple, saw the baby and understood that he would be a lifeline and a new light for humanity. He took Jesus in his arms, proclaiming that now he has seen the Saviour. Hence, the holiday was created and named “Tearn’ndaraj”. It actually means “to come to meet the Lord, the Christ”.
The name “Trndez”, however, is more used among people. It means “the Lord is with you“.
According to Armenians, the word “Trndez” originates from the name of God Tir.
THE RITUALS AND TRADITIONS OF TRNDEZ
Tnrdez has pagan origins. It was called Derendez which in Armenian meant “bundle of hay in front of your house.” This was a good wish for the house.
In ancient Armenia, the holiday was associated with the worship of Vahagn.
Vahagn was the god of Fire and the Sun.
In pre-Christian Armenia, Trndez was celebrated as nature awakening festival. People believed that the strength of the fire could break the winter’s cold and make the fields fertile. They also believed that after the feast, the weather was getting warmer. So, the rituals of Tearnyndaraj are highly connected with the purifying qualities of fire.
The main ritual of Trndez is making fire. The fire symbolizes the light, the warmth, the joy and also protection against evil.
After people make a big bonfire in the courtyard of the temple, they all start shouting “Burn winter!”. People taking part in the ritual also sing songs about their wishes and requests. For example, some people sing “Let my hens bring eggs, cows – give milk, daughters-in-law give birth to babies”. Couples sing songs related to love. Women who didn’t have children jump over the fire with the belief that they would get pregnant. Sick people came near the fire with the hope that they will be healed.
Bonfires are also made in the yards of houses around which newlywed couples centered in the wedding clothing. It is like a second wedding.
Even though the holiday is now Christianized, the customs and rituals are pretty much the same.
Young couples jump across the fire for good luck in the future. They begin to predict the future. By jumping over bonfire people keep various diseases and misfortune away from them.
Recent years Armenian Apostolic Church also celebrates the festival as a newlyweds blessing day.
There are many different beliefs associated with Trndez.
Here you will see a few of them.
- If the sacred fire touches the newlyweds when they jump over it, it means that they will have a baby soon. For unmarried people, if the fire touches them, it means they will get married soon.
- Another belief is associated with the ash of the bonfire. People put the ashes of the fire at the corners of their houses. They hope that it will bring them success during the year. Some people put the ash under the brood. That way they expect the chicken to hatch without any injuries. Children can also take a hen in their arms and go near the fire with the hope that the hen will lay more eggs.
- People also believe that by following the direction of fire smoke, unmarried people will know in which direction they will find their love. For the married ones, the smoke direction shows where to find success and luck.
- According to elder people, the direction of the smoke can predict the autumn crop of the year. If the smoke blows either to the South or to the East, it is a good omen for wheat. If it blows to the North or West, it is a bad omen and poor harvest.
People of all ages jump over the fire. They sing special songs and dance national dances. They hold hands, circle around the fire and count the seven circles they have to make before jumping over the bonfire. Some people collect the ashes of the fire and take home. Then they make a bonfire at their own gardens or yards.