On February 14 each year, the Armenian Church celebrates Dyarnuntarach, literally “the bringing forward of the Lord.” The Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord to the Temple is always 40 days after Armenian Christmas. Other names for the feast include Derendas (possibly a contraction of Dyarnuntarach) and Candlemas.
When Mary and Joseph took the baby Jesus to the temple, Mary was seen by Simeon, an elderly and devoutly religious Jew who had prayed to God to keep him alive so he would see the Saviour promised to mankind. When he saw Mary and her baby, Simeon suddenly sensed God’s presence, and said: “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word; for mine eyes have seen thy salvation which thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to thy people Israel.” (Luke 2:29-32)
Armenian Traditions for The Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord
The night before the feast, Armenians traditionally light candles during an evening church service, carrying the flame out into the darkness (symbolically bringing light into the void) and either take it home to light lamps or light a bonfire in the church courtyard.
Combining pre-Christian Armenian traditions with this Christian celebration, the festivities included dancing and as the celebration grew, young men would leap over the fire.