Sunday, August 17 was marked by the Armenian Apostolic Church as the “Grapes Blessing” day. After the Sunday Mass the priest dressed in gold-embroidered robes blessed the table filled with various sorts of of white and red grapes and invited the believers to share the wonderful fruit of the Armenian valleys with the servants of the Church. The official season of grapes started.
The Grapes Blessing day in Armenia usually coincides with the celebration of Virgin Mary’s Assumption, which is marked by the Roman Catholic Church on August 15th, but which is observed by the Armenian Apostolic church on one of the closest Sundays. This year, however, Assumption of Virgin Mary was marked on August 10th, while Grapes Blessing was done on August 17th.
From what a clergyman explained to me yesterday, there is nothing religious at all with the Grapes Blessing day – it is just a remnant from the Medieval tradition, when the peasants had to pay a 10th of their harvest to the Church, and the Church would instead bless them for it.
Whatever the logic and history of Grapes Blessing date, I have always liked to go to the Church on this particular day – this is one of the days when the Armenian Church becomes so lively and so close to the real people, away from its traditional cold and sober self-important attitude. And I like the small pull-n-push in the crowd rushing to get their hands on the blessed fruit. And although I usually can’t wait for the Grapes Blessing day before I eat my first grapes of the year (I just like the fruit so much, that I can’t wait), from this day on I feel myself a proper Armenian for eating the grapes ‘with the permission and blessing’ of my very own Armenian Apostolic Church.