Tsaghkazard: believers with wreaths on Armenian Palm Sunday
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The history of Tsaghkazard festival from ancient times to the present day
The origins of Tsaghkazard festival (“decorated with flowers” in Armenian) came from distant pre-Christian times. Most of the ceremonies of Tsaghkazard are devoted to the awakening of nature, the beginning of spring. The name of the holiday Tsaghkazard is associated with an abundance of flowers. Another name for this holiday is Tsarzardar (to decorate a tree) again symbolizes the arrival of spring. People decorated their houses and yards with consecrated willow or olive branches. Thus, people in the consecrated branches saw a mysterious force, with the help of which they could withstand natural disasters of nature. Tsaghkazard is also a youth holiday in Armenia. Young guys decorated branches of willow with multi-colored pieces of handkerchiefs in order to carry it to their beloved girlfriends.
Tsaghkazard: from paganism to Christianity
After adopting Christianity, Tsaghkazard turned into a Christian religious holiday, which is dedicated to the solemn entrance of Jesus Christ to Jerusalem before Easter.
This festival is celebrated on the last Sunday of Great Lent. This day marks the beginning of the Holy Week.
The Catholicos of All Armenians, Garegin II, proclaimed Tsaghkazard as the Day of the blessing of children, in memory of the fact that during Jesus’s entry into the Jerusalem temple, children exclaimed with exultation: “Hosanna to the Son of David”.
The branches of willow are blessed at the Tsaghkazard festival and are distributed to people in memory of the fact that they met the Lord with palm branches in their hands. The softness of these branches symbolizes the humility of followers of Christ.
The presentation of branches symbolizes special honors and solemnity. The olive branch was considered a symbol of wisdom, peace, glory, and exultation. The presentation of the palm and olive branches to Christ, who resurrected the dead Lazarus, symbolizes the victory over death.
In the past, at the Tsaghkazard festival, it was customary to decorate trees growing near the church with colored ribbons and to hang fruits on the branches, which also symbolized the connection with the fertility cult.
Previously, by prior arrangement, the betrothal of new couples took place on Palm Sunday. All this was accompanied by folk songs and dances. Despite the period of Lent, sweets and other delicious food was prepared at the Tsaghkazard festival.
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