In Armenia, February 13 is traditionally the day when thousands of people take part in worshipping fire. The day is known as Terendes and is usually observed by newlywed couples or couples waiting to be wed as well as friends and family members. Basically people light a bonfire using grapevine branches or whatever they can get their hands on, then the spectators in awe of the fire join hands, usually holding lit candles in hand, and parade around the fire for several minutes. Then the chain is broken and couples holding hands jump over the fire about three times for good luck and prosperity, as well as to scare off the evil spirits and so forth. The others also join in by jumping through the fire. I doubt anyone ever gets hurt in this process, since it’s in a way a holy act of appeasing the greater forces that be to grant fortune. I participated in a Terendes festivity last year when my friend Karen’s family organized an event just in front of their apartment building. My then fiancée and I jumped over the fire a few times and now we are married, so something good came out of it you could say. I was hoping to see a festival at the Garni temple but did not hear of anything happening there.
Read more about Terendes and see additional photos here
Photo courtesy of Onnik Krikorian
Labels: Personal Experiences, Social and Cultural