The New Year (Gaghant, Amanor or Navasart) has generally been a feast of joy and happiness for the Armenian people. It is customary to exchange gifts with family members and close friends and to bring delight to children with gifts. It is also customary to set the family table to the extent of their means with fruits and good things to eat, thereby making the abundance and joy spread throughout the year.
Presently all Christian churches celebrate the New Year on January 1. The word “January” or “Hunvar” means “birth”. Being born in January, Christ saved mankind from eternal death and led to the Kingdom of Heaven. That’s why January became the year’s beginning. January 1 is the first day of the first month of the year of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. On January 1 a Divine Liturgy is celebrated as well as the Thanksgiving Prayer to welcome in the New Year with the Blessing of Pomegranates. At the end of the service, each family takes home a blessed pomegranate.
In Christianity the pomegranate symbolises the diversity of God’s grace, the Church. Just as the seeds of the pomegranate are separated by thin membranes yet held tightly together, in the same way the Christian Church holds all Christians around the world together in Christ’s love; though they are separate, they are not divided. Thus the pomegranate shows unity in diversity.