Author Topic: Armenian Church Calendar  (Read 3521 times)

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Offline Salpy

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Armenian Church Calendar
« on: July 14, 2008, 05:50:42 PM »
A friend of mine sent me a copy he made of a CD, which recorded a lecture by an Armenian priest about our calendar.  Sounds boring, right?  That's what I thought, until I started listening to it.  It's really interesting.  It explains all sorts of stuff I either didn't know, or that I kind of knew but didn't really know well enough.

One of the things he explains, which I kind of knew, but not in detail, is that we have very few holy days which are on fixed calendar dates.  There are six of them.  I didn't know there were six.  I thought it was less.  Two of them are Christmas (Jan. 6) and Presentation of Christ to the Temple (Feb. 14.)  He said what the other four are, but I can't recall them.  I'd have to go back and listen to the CD again to get them.   All of the other holy days move around from year to year.  An example of this is the feast day of St. Hripsime, which is on the Monday after Pentecost.  I mention that in this thread on St. Hripsime, reply #5:

 http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,15818.0.html

Another thing the priest goes into is how, very early on, the Armenian Church looked to Jerusalem for guidance in spiritual matters, and our "lectionary" and "rites" were copied from those of Jerusalem in the fourth century.  (I'm not too sure what those two words mean   :) )  Consequently, when scholars want to research the ancient Jerusalem rites and lectionary, they have to look at the Armenian ones, because that's where they have been preserved.  He spends a lot of time on this, but I couldn't quite understand it all.

Something that I did understand, though, had to do with what days are allowed to be feast days and saint days.  I kind of knew this, but again it was nice to hear it explained.  He explained how you can't have feast days or saint days on Wed. or Fri.  On Sunday, you can have a feast day, like Easter, but no saint days.  So the only days you ever have saint days are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.  During Lent, it's only Saturdays.

So now I have a question.  (I didn't start this thread just to tell about a lecture I heard.   :) )  The question I have is, are there other Churches which restrict their feast and saint days to only certain days?  I don't think the EO's have this restriction.  Also, when I look at the Coptic calendar I have, I see saint days on all the days.  So what about the Ethiopian Church or the Syriac or Indian Churches?   Does anyone know? 

Offline vasnTearn

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Re: Armenian Church Calendar
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2010, 06:18:32 AM »
The question I have is, are there other Churches which restrict their feast and saint days to only certain days?  

Yes, the Assyrian Church of the East also uses a calendar in which most of the feasts are movable, like in our Calendar. And they also have restrictions, though they are different from those of ours (for example, if I remember correctly, they celebrate saints on Fridays and perhaps Sundays while we don't). Generally, in the principles of formation (not in the contents), the Armenian Church and the Assyrian Church Calendars are similar: While other Calendars are formed according to the days of months, our Calendar is formed (also that of the Assyrian Church) according to the weeks and the days of weeks combined in circles/periods.

I want to add to your above information that though we don't celebrate saints on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, the Holy Mother of God and St Elijah are exceptions: both the Assumption of the Theotokos and St Elijah's commemoration are always on Sundays.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2010, 06:49:14 AM by vasnTearn »

Offline Salpy

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Re: Armenian Church Calendar
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2010, 04:00:08 PM »
Thanks for the info, vasnTearn!  That's interesting that the Assyrian Church also has a calendar with movable feasts.  I wonder if that's the most ancient way of doing it.

Seeing this old thread reminded me to listen to the CD again and get the six feast days that are always on the same date.  I thought I would record them here, just for everyone's information:

1.  The Nativity of Christ:  January 6

2.  The Presentation of Christ to the Temple:  February 14

3.  The Conception of the Virgin Mary:  December 9

4.  The Annunciation to the Virgin Mary:  April 7

5.  The Nativity of the Virgin Mary:  September 8

6.  The Presentation of the Virgin Mary to the Temple:  November 21

Those are the only feast days that are on the same date every year in the Armenian Church.  Everything else moves around according to cycles, as mentioned above. 

Offline augustin717

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Re: Armenian Church Calendar
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2010, 04:14:15 PM »
The Assyrians, if I'm not mistaken also restrict their saints' commemorations in a manner similar to Arminians'.

Offline Salpy

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Re: Armenian Church Calendar
« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2010, 09:18:40 PM »
I think I found the lecture on line.

This is the title and description:

The Liturgical Year of the Armenian Church: Feasts, Fasts and Foundations of Faith

Speaker: V. Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan

Description: In a lecture originally delivered on June 18, 2008 at the ecumenical conference, Orientale Lumen XII East, Fr. Findikyan presents a broad survey of the Armenian Church year. He emphasizes the unique theological vision that is expressed in the structure, arrangement, historical development and meaning of the feasts, making comparisons with the liturgical year in the Latin, Byzantine, Coptic and other rites. [41min, 38MB]


http://www.stnersess.edu/classroom/lectures/index.php


http://www.stnersess.edu/globalClassroom/armenianChurchStudies/FindikyanLitYear.mp3
« Last Edit: February 09, 2010, 09:19:12 PM by Salpy »

Offline ialmisry

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Re: Armenian Church Calendar
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2011, 01:09:21 PM »
Thanks for the info, vasnTearn!  That's interesting that the Assyrian Church also has a calendar with movable feasts.  I wonder if that's the most ancient way of doing it.

Seeing this old thread reminded me to listen to the CD again and get the six feast days that are always on the same date.  I thought I would record them here, just for everyone's information:

1.  The Nativity of Christ:  January 6

2.  The Presentation of Christ to the Temple:  February 14

3.  The Conception of the Virgin Mary:  December 9

4.  The Annunciation to the Virgin Mary:  April 7

5.  The Nativity of the Virgin Mary:  September 8

6.  The Presentation of the Virgin Mary to the Temple:  November 21

Those are the only feast days that are on the same date every year in the Armenian Church.  Everything else moves around according to cycles, as mentioned above. 
Interesting that the preservation of the common date of the Nativity and Theophany on the same day moves the Annunciation as well. Which is interesting as April 6 33 is given by some as a date of the Resurrection, while the Synaxarion we use gives March 25 (which I've never seen possible in any calculation), the connection that there was an early connectin between Christ's death date with His conception or birthdate.
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Offline deusveritasest

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Re: Armenian Church Calendar
« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2011, 08:12:58 PM »
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Offline griego catolico

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Re: Armenian Church Calendar
« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2015, 03:12:38 PM »
  So the only days you ever have saint days are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.  During Lent, it's only Saturdays.

The feast of Saint Blaise of Sebaste is celebrated on February 3rd in the Roman Catholic Church.

Looking at Armenian Apostolic liturgical calendars from the past few years, I see that his feast has jumped around a bit:

July 23, 2005
January 16, 2006
January 16, 2007
July 19, 2008
January 17, 2009
January 16, 2010
January 17, 2011

Is there are particular reason why in the years 2005 and 2008, it was in July?

Offline griego catolico

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Re: Armenian Church Calendar
« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2015, 03:14:07 PM »
I think I found the lecture on line.

This is the title and description:

The Liturgical Year of the Armenian Church: Feasts, Fasts and Foundations of Faith

Speaker: V. Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan

Description: In a lecture originally delivered on June 18, 2008 at the ecumenical conference, Orientale Lumen XII East, Fr. Findikyan presents a broad survey of the Armenian Church year. He emphasizes the unique theological vision that is expressed in the structure, arrangement, historical development and meaning of the feasts, making comparisons with the liturgical year in the Latin, Byzantine, Coptic and other rites. [41min, 38MB]


http://www.stnersess.edu/classroom/lectures/index.php


http://www.stnersess.edu/globalClassroom/armenianChurchStudies/FindikyanLitYear.mp3

The link is now: http://www.stnersess.edu/seminary-lectures-audio.html

Offline wgw

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Re: Armenian Church Calendar
« Reply #9 on: February 09, 2015, 05:58:32 AM »
Salpy.

Rites refers to the distinctive customs of each particular church, both individually (I.e. The Armenian Baptismal Rite) and as a whole (the Armenian Rite); whereas one could also refer to the Rites of the Christian Church in comparison with the Rites of Islam, the Rites of the Mandaeans, et cetera.   Rite and ritual are somewhat interchangeable but in liturgiological jargon Rite tends to refer primarily to national or regional ritual usages: the East Syriac Rite, the West Syriac Rite, the Ambrosian Rite, the Roman Rite, the Mozarabic Rite, the Byzantine Rite, the Jerusalem Rite, now defunct, but the source for much of our current liturgical heritage including nearly everyone's Paschal services, which can be traced back to St. Cyril of Jerusalem, to whom fell the task of organizing the Pascal pilgrimmages, devotions and liturgical services following the restoration of the city under St. Helen (he had one or two predecessors but a large chunk of the ritual started with him if memory serves; recall prior to Ss. Constantine and Helen Jerusalem was an administrative center off limits to Jews and Christians and mostly in ruins).  Likewise the Antiochene Rite, which had wide ranging influence on the Byzantine Rite and West Syriac Rites, and all the Rites they influenced, including the Armenian and Ethiopian; traces of this ancient Rite which is perhaps the oldest can even be found in the Roman Rite.  However this rite and the rite of Jerusalem were largely lost in their original Greek forms due to Byzantinization and are best preserved in the Armenian and Syriac Orthodox liturgies.  Of course the Byzantine Rite is itself derivative of the Antiochene Rite and the Jerusalem Rite, with some local influence and a theoretical Cappadocian influence.

Lectionary refers to the system of appointed scripture lessons throughout the year.  In the Armenian liturgy these are fairly simple due to the relative lack of fixed feasts, but the intersection of fixed and movable feasts, in particular the Lent-Pascha-Pentecost block I like to call the Triodia makes this incredibly complicated in the Byzantine and pre-1910 Tridentine Rite.  Before the reforms of Pius X the calendar of saints had grown to the point that outside of privileged octaves and seasons such as Advent, Lent and Holy Week, the proper Sunday lection was invariably never heard, displaced by various saints days.

Now by the way I will say I love the Armenian liturgy.  However thanks to the wicked Turks who perpetrated genocide against all the Christian populations of the Ottoman Empire starting in 1915, much of this has been lost.  I refer of course to the older style of Armenian liturgical music which you can still hear in the monastic chanting of the psalms but not in the music of the Sunday Badarak, which has been heavily westernized.  In the recent past this was accompanied by cymbals in the manner of the Syriac Rites (for some reason the Chaldeans and the Syriac Catholics kept the cymbals while jettisoning nearly everything else whereas the non-Roman churches lost them, although given the, to my knowledge, lack of cymbals in the Indian church it's possible the reports I've read from the 19th century of cymbals in use in Syriac Orthodox parishes were erroneous or referring to a regional or tribal custom that was prevalent in that part which left for Rome but was otherwise destroyed by the Turks.

Some object to the Byzantinization of the Liturgy of the Catechumens and the Latinization of the mitres and the Last Gospel, but I don't.

However there were once 13 or so Anaphoras that we have the Classical Armenian text for in use but only the Anaphora of St. Athanasius remains in use.  Now granted, the Anaphora of St. Athanasius is, in American vernacular parlance, a hum-dinger; Athanasius is my co-patron, my avatar is a Syriac Orthodox icon of him, and I love the text of the Armenian Anaphora of St. Athanaius so much that I might well inscribe it on my wall (actually although I can't read or write Classical Armenian the text of the Badarak inscribed in faux-granite would make an awesome decoration for any Armeniophile).  But I would really love to see the Anaphora of St. Ignatius,moor example, which is believed to be an original Armenian composition, restored to use in Armenian churches.

By the way, I do love the sound of Westernized Armenian music. But I wish the more exotic sound with cymbals and so on were also available.  Imagine the liturgical thrill of using them side by side!  I also adore the look of old Armenian churches in the East ranging from the Cathedral in Isfahan to the heavily Armenian influenced Churches of the Nativity and Holy Sepulchre.  Imagine the heart pounding thrill of attending such a vibrant, living Armenian Badarak, in a church dimly lit through stained glass windows and with a vast array of hanging silver and brass oil lamps, with huge clouds of incense obscuring the vision, so that the icons on the bema, illuminated with candles, penetrate through a holy fog, to hear a mixture of the newer music with the organ, and the old, with the clash of cymbals, perhaps in a mix of Classical Armenian and the vernacular, with the 13 ancient anaphoras rotated through each week.  Such a church would do more than attract Armenians, I'll wager it could single handedly wipe out a heretical church like St. Gregory of Nyassa Episcopal Church in San Francisco and rescue hundreds of Americans from heresy.

This is the fantastic realm of liturgical studies: to spend ones Christian devotion with the mind uplifted perpetually in the space between Heaven and Earth, by continually researching and contemplating the liturgical life of the entire church past and present. Mand whereas many liturgiologists take the approach of wanting to simplify or innovate, redoing the liturgy to suit their own personal convictions, I swear that until the last breath I will do all that I can ethically do in the service of our Lord to help the Orthodox and the semi-Orthodox (I.e. Roman Catholics, Assyrians) from losing their liturgical heritage or having it disfigured by modernists, and also to provide thoughts on how those parts that already have been lost, like the disused Armenian anaphoras, can be restored.

Please forgive any offense my posts cause; none is intended. No statements I make should be regarded as authoritative, regardless of tone. Let us bless the Lord ar all times.