You’re walking down the street and suddenly you are drenched with water from a balcony above you! Don’t be scared or surprised, it’s water day in Armenia, or how the natives say-Vartavar. It’s one of those unique days, when everybody can soak each other with water using anything- from spray guns to buckets. For modesty’s sake, it is probably better to avoid wearing white on this day.During the day of Vartavar, people from a wide array of ages are allowed to douse strangers with water. Particularly children under 16 have the right to empty their bottles on you without repercussions. It doesn’t matter if you’re a stranger (or if you have your cell phone in your pocket), you need to be on your guard on Vartavar. They love vartavar, because it’s a great way to stay cool in the hot, sticky weather common in Armenia at this time of the year. The best way to enjoy Vartavar is to look at it as a country-wide water fight. If you want to stay dry, take a taxi and roll the windows up.
Although now a Christian tradition, Vartavar’s history dates back to pagan times. The ancient festival is traditionally associated with the goddess Astghik, who was the goddess of water, beauty, love and fertility. The festivities associated with this religious observance of Astghik were named “Vartavar” because Armenians offered her roses as a celebration (“vart” means “rose” in and “var” means “rise”), that’s why it was celebrated in the harvest time. The word Vartavar has two meanings: “the flaming of the rose and “to sprinkle with water”.Vartavar is currently celebrated about 98 days (14 Sundays) after Easter. On that day water is considered to be curative and powerful, especially in divinations and the foretelling of futures. It was superstitiously believed that the water drives away the evil.