http://www.armenianchurch.org/index.jsp?sid=3&nid=1536&y=2010&m=4&d=14On May 13, the Holy Armenian Apostolic Church celebrated the feast of the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. The day also commemorates the return of the Catholicosate of All Armenians in 1441 to the administrative headquarters and spiritual center of the worldwide Armenian Church - the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. The feast of the Ascension of the Lord is celebrated forty days after the Glorious Resurrection, in accordance with the Gospels that state Christ remained on earth for forty days, and continued to appear to and console His disciples.
The celebrant of the Divine Liturgy was His Grace Bishop Sahak Mashalian, Dean of the Gevorkian Theological Seminary. Reflecting on the mystery of the day, His Grace stressed the importance of the Lord’s Ascension for every Christian, as a guarantee of the heavenly glory of Christ and of our national ecclesiastical unity under the guidance of the Mother See.
Following the Divine Liturgy, His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians extended his pontifical message, love and blessings to the faithful.
In the old days, and I think still in some remote parts of Armenia, there were old folk customs associated with Ascension Day. From what I understand, on the eve of Ascension Day, the custom was for young girls to gather water from seven different water sources (seven different wells, springs, etc.) The water would be put into a bowl and covered with flowers that were woven together. Before putting the flowers over the bowl, each girl would put some personal article into the water, like a ring, bracelet, button, etc. The bowl would stay like that overnight, and on the day of the feast, a seven year old girl dressed like a bride would pull out each item (called "veejag") one by one, and the fortune of each girl would be told as her veejag was pulled out.
As a kid I heard about the old customs, but they were considered old-fashioned, pagan, etc. and I think they were even discouraged by those in the Church. Absolutely no one practiced this sort of thing, although you heard about it. Ascension Day was purely religious. Recently, however, I think the Church has been encouraging the revival of some semblance of these practices. I think it is seen as preserving a part of the traditional culture that can now be seen as harmless.
On Thursday, I took a day off work and went to the Western Diocese for the Ascension Day liturgy. After the liturgy, the ladies society had a luncheon and "veejags" (in the form of rhinestone pins) were passed out, with little love poems attached. The hall was decorated with flowers and a fountain, and after we ate, two little girls dressed like brides pulled veejags out of a clay jar of water and little poems were said with each one. It was very cute.
I assumed the revival of the old custom was just something being done over here, but then I noticed this video from Etchmiadzin showing that they are doing a cultural celebration over there, complete with young girls, dancing, and flowers. There was no mention of veejags, but it seems they had fun anyway: http://www.youtube.com/user/ArmenianChurch#p/u/7/FNimHBFole4