The Blessing of Grapes

Armenia -- Grape blessing (խաղողօրհնեք) ceremony at the Echmiadzin Cathedral, 12Aug2012
Armenia — Grape blessing ceremony at the Echmiadzin Cathedral, 12Aug2012 | Photolur photo

Traditionally, the Armenian Apostolic Church holds a ceremony of grapes’ blessing on the day of the Feast of the Assumption of the Holy Mother of God. The ceremony takes place immediately after the Divine Liturgy.

Of the vast variety of produce, grapes had a special place of honor and were considered the “first fruits”, because they were the first produce of harvest.

Armenian Church doctrine teaches that the Blessed Mother Mary has a primary place of honor because it was ‘of’ her and ‘by’ the Holy Spirit that God became incarnate (took human flesh). She is seen as the image of humanity fully obedient to God and ultimately sanctified by doing God’s will. Therefore on the feast remembering her Dormition (falling asleep in Christ) and Assumption (ascending to heaven), we celebrate the Blessing of Grapes.

This Blessing of Grapes is celebrated during the month of August, the end of the summer and beginning of harvest. It is traditional to use seedless grapes to emphasize that this fruit came into being without seed just as Christ became man without any human agent.

PS: As a bonus, here’s my son lighting candles yesterday in Yerevan’s Saint Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral, the largest Armenian church in the world.

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