The Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ is one of the five main “Tabernacle” feasts of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Holy Church. It commemorates the transformation or the “transfiguration” that came over Jesus while He was praying. Christ’s face shone like the sun and his clothes became a radiant and gleaming white. The Apostles Peter, James and John witnessed that event which occurred on a high mountain named Tabor.
Evangelists St. Matthew, St. Mark and St. Luke testify about the transfiguration of Jesus in the Gospels (Matthew 17:1-13; Mark 9:1-12, Luke 9:28-36).
“… As they looked on, a change came over Jesus: his face was shining like the sun and his clothes were dazzling white. Then the three disciples saw Moses and Elijah talking with Jesus. So Peter spoke up and said to Jesus, “Lord, how good it is that we are here! If you wish I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” While he was talking, a shining cloud came over them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my own dear Son, with whom I am pleased – listen to him!” When the disciples heard the voice, they were so terrified that they threw themselves face downward on the ground. Jesus came to them and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid!” So they looked up and saw no one there but Jesus. (Matthew 17:2-8)
In the Armenian Church, the Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ is celebrated 98 days following Easter. The Feast also is known by the common name of “Vartavar” or “Vardakas”. This day is associated with an old Armenian tradition of pouring water on one another. Some sources attribute the tradition as a remnant of an Armenian pre-Christian celebration.