This Sunday, February 14, the Armenian Church commemorates the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord to the Temple (Dyarnuntarach in Armenian, which means “bringing forward of the Lord”). This feast always falls on February 14—forty days after the Nativity (January 6). It commemorates the presentation of the Lord to the Temple by Mary and Joseph according to Mosaic law (see Numbers 18:15).
In the temple, a righteous and devout man named Simeon to whom it had been revealed that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord, took Jesus in his arms, blessed God and said, “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” (See Luke 2:22-40)
Some pre-Christian Armenian customs have been incorporated into this feast, including one that remains popular to this day, especially in the Middle East and Armenia. In recent years, the tradition has been revived here in the United States as well. On the eve of the feast, a bonfire is lit outside of the church using a flame from the altar. Young people, especially newlyweds, gather around the fire as the flames subside, and the young men leap over the flames. The light of the bonfire is symbolic of Christ, who is the Everlasting Life and Light of the world.