On 3 March 2023, the Armenian students of the College of Europe in Natolin, in collaboration with the Student Affairs and Professional Development Office (SAPDO), organized the celebrations of Armenia.
Different activities were planned throughout the week to showcase to the Natolin community Armenia’s millenary history, cultural heritage, unique landscapes and cuisine. A central event of the celebrations was the demonstration of traditional Armenian weeding which was announced on 14 February, during the two love-related feasts organised by the Armenian students: Trndez, feast of the Newlyweds and the Precursor of Spring in Armenia, considered to be one of the important elements of manifestation of Armenian cultural identity having at the centre of the celebrations a bonfire around which the students were introduced to Armenian dances and games. The second feast was Saint Sarkis celebrations, when Natolin students were encouraged to eat a salty piece of bread before sleeping as part of a long-held love ritual, believed that the real love of their life would bring them a glass of water.
On 2 March, the Armenian students with a few carefully chosen pieces transferred the Retinger lobby into an Armenian space for a folk style photoshoot for Natolin students and staff members with Armenian traditional clothes representing ornaments from different regions of the Kingdom of Armenia. This was followed by a workshop on the Armenian alphabet, which provided an overview of the unique script of the Armenian language, including its history, phonetics and the significant role it has played in the preservation of the Armenian culture. The workshop included a hands-on component where students were able to practice writing the Armenian letters and words. On the evening of 2 March, in the Auditorium Copernicus, the Armenian epic poem "Daredevils of Sassoun" was screened, a poem in the tradition of heroic folk tales that depict the history of an entire nation and voice its deepest sentiments and aspirations. It started with an interaction with Ms Nune HOVHANNISYAN from the National Cinema Center of Armenia, who explained in detail the symbolism of the events in the poem and the production process of the animated film.
March 3 was the main day of the celebrations. The Natolin library has created an Armenian corner displaying a collection on Armenian history and culture. This was complemented by an exhibition initiated by the students presenting the greatest figures of Armenian origin and their contribution to the world, including Diana Abgar, Arshile Gorky, Sergei Parajanov, Hovhannes Aivazovsky, Charles Aznavour, Ara Güler, etc.
In the afternoon, the Armenian traditional weeding demonstration was held to showcase its distinctiveness. Armenian weddings are known for their rich and vibrant celebrations that bring together family, friends, and community members. The demonstration began with the entrance of the bride and groom, who were greeted by the guests with loud cheers and applause. The couple then exchanged their vows and rings, followed by the traditional crowning ceremony, where a crown is placed on the couple's heads to symbolize their union.
This was followed by a traditional Armenian dinner, where the students and staff members were treated to an array of delicious and authentic Armenian cuisine, including dolma, khorovats, ghapama, khashlama, harissa, basturma, sujukh, gata, bakhlava and lavash prepared by the Natolin Restaurant with also the support of the Armenian Embassy in Poland. After the delicious dinner, the Armenian students offered more specific delicacies, traditional Armenian snacks, and dried fruits and nuts.
Before the cultural showcase and the concert at Auditorium Copernicus kicked off, the Ambassador of Armenia to Poland, H.E. Mr Samvel MKRTCHIAN, took the stage to give a speech on Armenia-EU relations and the steps being taken towards the implementation of the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement, emphasizing the importance of the deployment of the EU monitoring mission on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border and presenting the security environment of the South Caucasus. He then answered questions from the audience.
The later concert was a celebration of Armenian folk music and dance performed by singers Lilit MINASYAN and Aram SAYEGH. Their voices filled the room with beautiful melodies, transporting the audience to a different time and place. The students who organized the event worked hard to provide an authentic and immersive experience for everyone in attendance, and their efforts paid off with an evening of music and cultural exchange.
Check out some photos from the event below, and all events taking place at Natolin on our Flickr: