Khaghoghorhnek took place on a beautiful day on Sunday 31 January 2021, following the Divine Liturgy.
His Eminence was the celebrant and homilist during a Soorp Badarak where all the Sarkis’ were asked to come forward to receive the Soorp Sarkis blessings.
After the Holy mass, the procession and the congregation moved to the church lawns which were adorned with an abundance of grapes.
The grapes were kindly donated by the parishioners, a sacred practice carried out with faith and reverence.
In pre-Christian times, the “Feast of Roots and Fruit” constituted part and parcel of the religious rituals of almost all nations. On this day a special ceremony was conducted by the servants of the temple, during which the first fruit of the year was offered to the corresponding god embodying fertility as a sign of obedience, gratitude and fruitfulness for the coming year.
After Armenia’s adoption of Christianity in 301 A.D., St. Gregory the Illuminator implemented new directions for the Armenian Church concerning such traditions. The first Armenian patriarch changed the essentials of the services, but included parts of some customs and rites of the old Armenian religion into the new Christian traditions. One of these was the offering of the first fruit from the harvest. After reviewing and modifying this tradition, St. Gregory the Illuminator Christianised the service and introduced it into the Armenian Church traditions. At the direction of St. Gregory, the “offering” of the fruit was changed into a blessing of the harvest conducted by a priest.
In the Armenian Church, grapes are privileged over other fruits to be blessed as the first fruit of the harvest. This is conditioned by a number of historical and religious circumstances. After the Flood, our ancestor Noah planted a vineyard in the valley on the slopes of Mt. Ararat and grew grapes: “Noah, a man of the soil, was the first to plant a vineyard” (Genesis 9:20).
The fruit of the vineyard became the decoration of the Araratian valley; it was considered to be the noblest fruit and was called “King of the Fruit.” Jesus Christ repeatedly associated himself with the vine: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower” (John 15:1). According to the explanation of our church fathers, the Holy Mother-of-God was the selected branch that presented humanity with a pure and life-giving vine: Jesus Christ.
The blessing of the fruit coincides with the end of summer when the grape ripens. On that feast day grapes are blessed after the Divine Liturgy and given to the faithful in attendance.