Navasard, the Day of the Armenian National Identity

Navasard, the Day of the Armenian National IdentityAccording to ancient Armenian chronicles, on August 11, 2492 BC, the progenitor of Armenians Hayk defeated Bel, allowing his descendants to freely live and thrive.

Hayk Agheghnavor (Hayk the Bowman, also known as Hayk Nahapet), the founder of the Haykazuni dynasty, crushed the troops of a Babylonian tyrant Bel in the battle of Dyutsaznamart (southeast of Lake Van) and gave a beginning to the Armenian state.

Navasard is an ancient Armenian New Year tradition that is celebrated on August 11. In antiquity, the feasts of Navasard lasted several days. Additionally, Navasard was the name of the first month of the ancient Armenian calendar, which had been used prior to the adoption of Christianity by Armenia in 301 AD.

On Navasard, Armenians drank sweet beverages and light wines. Armenians have never got drunk during the feast as an ancient Armenian saying read: “Gods spread Lolium on the fields of drunkards.” “Lolium” in this saying probably refers to species of Lolium grasses that negatively impact the production of crops.

Even the eating has been modest on Navasard. A must-have on the feast tables was bread made with Triticum araraticum, which is also known as Armenian wild wheat. Due to the varying climatic conditions throughout Armenia, the dishes served during the ceremony differed from area to area. The dishes have been mostly consisting from wheat products. Armenians would dedicate bread to their gods and ask for their coming year to be fertile.

The saying “one can’t borrow bread on Navasard” comes from those traditions. That’s why Armenians have made sure to bake bread made with their own wheat.

Another saying reads: “The New Year will come with wine, but it will be late without ngatsaghik.” In antiquity, ngatsaghik was a famous seasoning. This appetizing flower grew on the slopes of Mount Ararat. Armenians living in the nearby provinces gathered the flowers and then distributed them all over Armenia. Regardless of where Armenians lived, they would always have ngatsaghik. The tradition of using ngatsaghik in dishes was a symbol of the national unity of Armenians as that flower connected them to each other and to Ararat, the symbol of their homeland.

Painting by Rubik Kocharian
Painting by Rubik Kocharian

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