Most of us can recall people who would refuse to eat grapes until a priest blessed the fruit.
There is a day in the year when people buy the grapes before going to the church because on this special day grapes enter the church as “forbidden fruit” and leave it blessed. This festival is a mixture of celestial and terrestrial, solemnity and familiarity, tradition and modernity.
This year August 12th is marked by the Armenian Apostolic Church for celebrating the feast Assumption of the Virgin Mary -The blessing of grapes. It is forth of five major feasts of the Armenian Church Calendar and the most ancient- dedicated to St. Mary. Each year on the Sunday closest to the date of August 15, the Armenian Church celebrates the Feast of the Assumption of St. Mary, the Holy Mother of God. Since pagan times, Armenians have been celebrating Navasard with grandeur (New Year holiday), nowadays the feast of Assumption of Holy Virgin celebrated in the same period has particularly inherited some individual features. In August grapes ripen and the festivals of Navasard has been continued with the blessing of grapes. The first blessed harvest was being sacrificed to Goddess Anahit- patroness of fecundity and maternity.
The night before the ceremony pious people abided by their faith come to the church to sing religious songs and sleep inside the sacred walls. In the early morning with the sunrise they were getting ready for the celebration- animal sacrifices, sweets and infinite quantity of fruits accompanied by songs, dances and funny games.
During the grape blessing God is asked for benediction over the grape pits and people enjoy the fruits of it to be mentally and physically healthy and worthy of atonement.
God is asked to bless people who bring the grape as well.
On the Feast of the Assumption of St. Mary, the Ceremony of the Blessing of the Grapes is conducted, and the harvest for the entire year is blessed on that day.
The symbol of this festivity is the idea of maternity full of faith, love and hope.
On coming Monday after the blessing of grapes Armenians commemorate all dead.
After the ceremony one can experience an unforgettable instants of your lifetime filling up the baskets with grapes and drive to a cellar, where it’s possible to mix the blessed grapes with those in barrel, see and take part in wine making process pressing the grapes in the old fashioned way: bare feet.