On February 14, the Armenian Church celebrates the Feast of the Lord’s Presentation to the Temple. Tiarndaraj, or Candlemas as it is known in the West, symbolizes the presentation of the 40 day-old Christ Child to the Temple in Jerusalem.
In accordance with the Law of Moses, the infant Christ was brought to the Temple by Mary and Joseph and presented to God. A man named Simeon was there, to whom it had been revealed that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord. Simeon held the infant in his arms, blessed God, and said, “Lord, let your servant now depart in peace, for my eyes have seen your Salvation, which you have prepared before the face of all people. A Light to lighten the Gentiles, and the Glory of Your people, Israel.” (Luke 2:29-32)
In the tradition of the Church, Evening Services (Nakhatonak) are conducted on the night preceding the Feast Day. At the conclusion of the service, the priest lights a candle from the Holy Altar, and distributes the flame to all present. With great care, the faithful take the lit candles home to their families.
The morning of the Feast Day, Divine Liturgy is celebrated in Armenian Churches throughout the world. The hymn offered during the Liturgy commemorating Tiarndaraj glorifies Simeon’s articulation of “a Light to lighten the Gentiles”. The hymn praising Simeon also lauds the Mystery of the Incarnation.
Many additional customs have been inherited from the past, including the blessing of the four corners of the world in the Andastan Service, the blessing of newlywed couples, as well as offering prayers for the crops and fertility of the fields.