New York’s St. Vartan Cathedral will celebrate Dyarnuntarach—the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord to the Temple—with special services on February 13 and 14, 2020. Diocesan Primate Bishop Daniel will preside over the services.
On Thursday evening, February 13, at 6:30 p.m., an “anticipatory service” of prayer will take place in the cathedral sanctuary, followed by a traditional lighting of a bonfire on the cathedral plaza. A reception will follow in Guild Hall.
On Friday morning, February 14—the feast day itself—the Divine Liturgy will be celebrated at the cathedral by Fr. Simeon Odabashian, beginning at 10 a.m.
A Light for Revelation
The Armenian Church observes Dyarnuntarach—literally “the bringing forward of the Lord”—on February 14 of each year, exactly 40 days after the church’s fixed “Armenian Christmas” celebration on January 6.
Standing behind the feast day is the gospel story told in Luke 2:21-40, of how Joseph and Mary brought the newborn Christ to the Jerusalem Temple for the first time. When the elderly Simeon saw the infant Jesus, he held the child in his arms and thanked God for giving him, in his advanced age, this glimpse of the world’s salvation.
“Lord, now let your servant depart in peace, according to your word,” said the aged prophet; “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.”
Taking inspiration, perhaps, from the words “light” and “glory,” the Armenian Church has a custom of lighting bonfires on the evening prior to Presentation Day. In Armenia, hardy souls and young couples attempt to vault over small fires as part of the ceremony, while others brave the frigid February night by circling around larger bonfires. Churchgoers in New York can experience their own version of the traditional bonfire on the plaza of St. Vartan Cathedral.
Western Christian traditions often refer to the Feast of the Presentation as “Candlemas”—another association with light and fire—and mark it in early February.
St. Vartan Cathedral is located at 630 Second Avenue (corner of 34th Street) in New York City.
Click on the link to view a flyer.
Artwork above by Vardan Gasparyan.