On 13 February 2024, the Armenian Church celebrated the Feast of the Lord’s Presentation to the Temple. Diarnt’arach, or Candlemas as it is known in the West, symbolises the presentation of the 40 day old Christ Child to the Temple in Jerusalem.

Originally called Trndez, which meant “a bundle of hay in front of your house,” it was intended as a wish of prosperity to the home and fertility to the land. In ancient Armenia, the holiday was associated with the worship of Vahagn—the god of fire, the sun, and of war and courage and the Armenian counterpart of the Zoroastrian god of victory Verethragna.

Following the Christianisation of Armenia, the Armenian Church decided to adapt the festival rather than to suppress and do away with it completely. In the tradition of the Church, the celebration is officially named “Diarnt’arach” (“coming to meet the Lord”).

In the tradition of the Armenian Church, Evening Services (Nakhatonak) are conducted on the night preceding the Feast Day (13th February). At the conclusion of the service, the priest lights a candle from the Holy Altar, and distributes the flame to all present. With great care, the faithful take the lit candles home to their families. The tradition of making a bonfire resembles the Lord’s light and warmth, and it must not be confused with pagan rituals, when fire was idolised and worshipped.