Barekendan is one of the most ancient Armenian holidays. In the old days, it was celebrated in February – the New Year according to the lunar calendar.
It was believed that at this time nature awakens when the festivities took place throughout the country. But for more than a century this holiday was in oblivion. And only in recent years, Barekendan traditions began to revive.
“Barekendan” or Armenian Maslenitsa is celebrated the day before the Great Lent. The streets of Yerevan are full of young people in masks of cats and dogs, as well as other animals living in the Armenian highlands.
Maslenitsa is a reminder of the human’s happiness which Adam and Eve experienced. It is also an example of heavenly life, where the man was allowed to taste all the fruits except the fruit of the tree of knowledge – good and evil.
Maslenitsa in Armenia
In ancient times, people painted their faces with flour or coal, the guys wore women’s clothes, and the girls wore – men’s so that they would not be recognized. This is just one component of the celebration of Maslenitsa.
Locals restored the ancient traditions and customs of this biggest and joyful holiday. So Armenian Maslenitsa has become a real carnival.
The King of Barekendan is the main character in the festival. According to the scripts, he is a tyrant. The king gathers the residents of the village on the main square and starts reading out his orders. He raises taxes, severely punishes citizens for no reason and so on.
Angry people throw snowballs at the tyrant and drive him out of the village. After the overthrow of the king, the real fun of the festival begins. After all, “Barekendan” from Arm Chaos symbolizes death. All bad things must perish in order to be reborn in some other better quality.
During Barekendan drinking a lot of wine is a must. It raises the mood for fun and warms in cold weather. It is by February that the wine made in the autumn ripens and becomes especially tasty.
In the evening, another game – “Comic Funeral of a donkey” begins. Of course, it’s not the animal itself that is buried, but its stuffed animal or doll.
The holiday itself symbolizes the cycle of nature. Having survived the winter, people are preparing for spring troubles, from which the countdown of the new year will begin. And before hard work, you should have a good rest and have a wedding.
Too many weddings were played during Barekendan in Armenia. This was considered a good sign for the future family life – there will always be a prosperous and happy life in the house.
The people believed that during Barekendan even the old maidens were lucky. In the “Comic Wedding,” the groom is led to such a maiden who is sitting among the brides. The wedding is played right there without delay.
Well, what kind of Barekendan without treats? On holiday, it was customary to eat sweet Gata, rice porridge, but the most important treatment is Armenian Khorovats (barbeque). The fact is that the Armenian Maslenitsa is also a hunting holiday. At this time, the winter hunting season ends. Therefore, during the festival, there are many dishes made out of meat.
Maslenitsa/Barekendan is still a pagan tradition and Lent follows it in Armenia. For 48 days, Armenians refuse to eat meat, drink wine and have fun, until Easter holiday.
Barekendan Festival date and place
Barekendan Festival is going to take place on March 2-3, 2019. The location of the festival is Pambak village, Byurakan.
Visit Armenia during Barekendan festival and be in the centre of all the interesting traditions!
source – Gardman Tour