Celebrating the Holiday Season
With the arrival of the New Year and Christmas every year, the joyous mood of the festivities penetrates into the Armenian Virtual College. The celebration of the holiday season begins at the AVC premises and then the mood is shared with thousands of its students throughout the world. For the New Year of 2015, ‘Season’s Greetings’ were not only sent to every student from the AVC faculty and staff, but also an academic program was enriched with a virtual social event dedicated to the New Year, which is the most popular holiday in Armenia—both in present and past times.
The “Celebrating the Holiday Season” virtual social event was devoted to the interpretation and presentation of the ancient Armenian New Year called “Kaghand” (“Kaghand” comes from the Latin expression “calendaa” - the first day of the month). In today’s global world with all traditions and customs imitated and intertwined for such international holidays such as New Year and Christmas, the uniqueness of the national rituals and traditions of Kaghand amazed AVC students and they were able to discover new pages of Armenian culture.
AVC’s international audience was given the opportunity to learn that Kaghand was celebrated on the first day of Navasard (Նավասարդ) month, «նավ» meant new and «սարդ» meant year. This is because according to the old Armenian calendar, Navasard was the first month of the year, and therefore the name of the month was strongly associated with the idea of the New Year. Navasard had 30 days, and the beginning of the month, which is Navasard 1, matches today’s calendar of August 11, the date when our ancestor Hayk defeated Bel. This is also the time of the season's fruits and harvest, which is why many of Kaghand celebrations were devoted to the richness of the harvest and desire to be fertile in the coming year. In pagan Armenia, our ancestors had begun Navasard pilgrimages to the sacred shrines of Amanor (another name for the deity of New Year) and Vanatur (the deity of hospitality) to worship the gods and ask for a rich harvest.
AVC students also learned of the Armenian Apostolic Church Christmas peculiarities and differences from that of the Catholic Church. The reasoning behind Armenians celebrating Christmas on January 6th and the Catholic world celebrating it on December 25th was also revealed during the social event.
The virtual social event “Celebrating the Holiday Season” was very much appreciated by the event participants; the students were excited about the stories of the old traditions and rituals of the New Year, as well as the wonderful rhymes, and delicious dishes. They thanked their online instructors for the event and wished that Kaghand Baba (old Armenian Santa Claus) would come with many gifts and surprises for the upcoming year of 2015!