The article is adapted and translated by Christina Hayrapetyan from the book “Armenian National Holidays” by Hranush Kharatyan-Arakelyan (Yerevan, Armenia 2000).
St. Sargis is one of the most beloved saints in the nation. People turn to him with deep belief and his feast is very popular everywhere in Armenia. It is a flexible holiday and is celebrated during the period between January 18 and February 23, on a Saturday which is exactly 63 days prior to Easter.
Many legends have been told about St. Sargis and the most famous one tells that once falling in love with a pretty girl Sargis snatched her and when fleeing he made a heavy storm to get rid of chasers. So once having made his dream come true he always helps young people in their striving for dreams. His image is always drawn as one on a horseback rushing to help those in need. He is especially believed to defend the travelers’ and young people in love.
The holiday dedicated to St. Sargis was greatly anticipated, but did not require mass festivities. It was mainly celebrated with families. The feast was to be preceded with a fasting week starting on Monday. This week was also significant for its special game called “Myooshtuk”. The children were to play with sticks trying to win as many as they could, so that they would have armfuls of sticks by the end of the week. The sticks were later used to make fire for baking ritual salt-breads.
Friday was the day of preparations. They would knead pokhind (baked and milled grain kneaded with honey or fruit syrup) and make rolls from it according to the number of family members. Many people preferred to hold this ritual next to sanctuaries called after St. Sargis.
In the evening the fast was solemnly quitted with pokhind tasting. Only unmarried young people could not eat anything except for salty flat-breads specially baked for them. They were to drink no water and the person who would give them a cup of water in the dream was believed to be their future wife/husband.
The same night the hostess would place a tray of flat pokhing in the most honorable place at home. People were sure that St. Sargis would visit them, that’s why they usually left their doors open and looked for the print of his horseshoe on pokhind next morning.