The Armenian Ball New Year’s Eve to the room La Valentine Bourg-Les-Valence (Drôme) with the Garo Bardakjian singer from Greece kept all its promises. The large audience spent the New Year’s Eve to the rhythm of songs Armenian, Greek, French, Spanish, Arabic and English. A beautiful rendering of the Garo singer who was popular with the public the dance floor filled with dozens of people and kotcharis and sirtakis galore. An evening of New Year in the Armenian which allowed the guests to accompany the arrival of the new year in a warm atmosphere. Congratulations to Joseph Kazazian and his team for this festive event.
YEREVAN. – Hovhannes Ashjian, 47, arrived in Armenia three years ago with his wife and daughter from the Syrian city of Aleppo. Welcoming the New Year in Yerevan for the first time, he faced numerous problems.
Ashjian told Armenian News – NEWS.am correspondent that his family was left without bread from December 31 to January 3, since they didn’t buy it beforehand: the shops were closed on those days, and even if they were open, there was no bread.
According to him, New Year is celebrated differently in Armenia and Syria. “In Syria, we celebrated the New Year only one day, on December 31: we gathered with close relatives and celebrated. And if there were many of us, we celebrated it at a restaurant, having fun till morning. We didn’t visit our relatives, and didn’t eat and drink for several days. It’s the other way round here: [New Year] celebration [here] lasts a week. Only one day – January 1 – was a non-working day for us. On that day we attended the church and took part in a liturgy,” Hovhannes says.
Traditions of the New Year table are, in his words, also very different.
“Everyone always prepared kofta with matsoun (yoghurt) and lamb stuffed with rice instead of the pork here. Here it’s necessary to have a large assortment of drinks, pork and other food. People even go to a pawnshop to have a nice table. It was different there: people put on the table what they had.”
There is also a big difference in terms of expenses,. In Ashjian’s words, in Syria everything also got expensive on New Year Eve. “But regardless of how much the prices went up, we could lay wonderful table, which we can’t do here. It’s very expensive here, especially for us,” he says.
Ashjian heard the word “New Year tree” for the first time in Armenia: in Syria they decorate a “Christmas tree” or “Jesus Tree” not for the holiday but for Christmas.
“We put small statuettes of the Holy Mother, baby Jesus and shepherds near the Christmas Tree, thus getting the picture of the birth of Jesus. Here in Yerevan we try to decorate the [Christmas tree] and celebrate the New Year the same way. We manage to a certain extent,” he says.
Hovhannes is surprised by the fact that in Armenia the New Year is more important than Christmas.
The world has begun celebrating the start of a New Year, with revellers in Australia and New Zealand some of the first to usher in 2016.
Crowds counted down the last seconds of 2015 at Auckland’s Sky Tower, which hosted a laser show and fireworks display.
Up to 25,000 people had been expected to turn out for the festivities in New Zealand’s largest city.
The country welcomed 2016 at 1100 GMT, an hour after Samoa and Kiribati.
Fireworks lit up Sydney harbour at midnight (1300 GMT) as the New Year welcomed in many parts of Australia.
About one million people were expected to turn out, and a pre-show for families was held at 9:00pm.
As the New Year sweeps across Asia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Beijing and other major cities will kick off their own grand celebrations.
In Egypt, festivities will be staged in front of the pyramids near Cairo, as the government works to revive its tourist industry.
Meanwhile, in Dubai, an extravagant display will illuminate the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, with 400,000 LED lights and 1.6 tons of fireworks set to be used.
When 2016 hits Europe, approximately one million people will countdown at the Brandenburg Gate in Germany’s capital, Berlin.
Despite security fears across the continent, many major public events are going ahead, though with heightened security restrictions.
In Madrid, only 25,000 people will be allowed into the Puerta del Sol Square. More than 100,000 people are expected to watch the Mayor of London’s fireworks show, a ticketed event.
Over in Sierra Leone, the declared end of Ebola will mark a return to festivities, after Freetown, the capital, was left deserted a year ago due to the disease’s outbreak.
As 2016 finally reaches the Americas, up to a million people are expected to converge on Times Square in New York, amid tight security, to watch the famous ball descend.
On Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana Beach, crowds will not only mark the New Year – they will also fete the 100th anniversary of Samba music, and the upcoming summer Olympics.
YEREVAN. – Ethnographer Rafik Nahapetyan says when celebrating the New Year, Armenians need to take into account that they will be in the one-week fasting period for the Armenian Christmas (January 6), and therefore they should not seek to have extravagant dishes on their New Year tables.
Nahapetyan noted that in the past, the New Year among Armenians was a holiday of nationwide rejoicing, and the New Year tables were rich, but without unnecessary luxury.
As per the ethnographer, both the New Year and several national holidays were twisted out of context after the Armenian Genocide and under the ex-Soviet rule.
In Rafik Nahapetyan’s words, the present-day obsession of “flooding” the New Year tables with various dishes is a novelty of the recent decades.
The ethnographer added that there is some tension these days when celebrating the New Year because the wealthy welcome it in with opulence, whereas the poor borrow money to celebrate it.
Rafik Nahapetyan concluded that the New Year has turned from a ritual to cleanse souls and bodies into a made-up race of lavishness
YEREVAN. – The subway system of Yerevan, the capital city of Armenia, will operate longer than usual on Thursday night.
On the occasion of the New Year celebrations in the city, the subway will operate until 2am Friday.
Those who wish to welcome 2016 at Republic Square in Downtown Yerevan, can participate in the festive concert that will kick off there at 10pm, and during which there will be premieres of new thematic songs.
And all through the New Year holidays, Santa will meet with children in his “castle” built at the square.
The New Year celebrations in Yerevan will come to a close on January 13 at 8pm, with the My Old and New New Year program.
ISTANBUL – Doğan News Agency
A Muslim youth group has held an “anti-Santa” rally in Istanbul, a city where, ironically, Christians ruled hundreds of years ago. The Istanbul University branch of the group, Anatolia Youth Association (AGD), held a rally on Dec. 30 at Beyazıt Square. Around 100 people held posters against celebrations held during New Year’s Eve on the grounds that it is a Christian tradition. The group dispersed after reading a press statement.
Christmas is celebrated by small number of Christian minorities in Turkey. Many celebrate New Year’s Eve and exchange presents on that day.
The center of New Year’s Eve celebrations used to be Istanbul’s Taksim square in previous years. However, Istanbulites now prefer Nişantaşı or Beşiktaş for street celebrations rather than Taksim due to the increased number of sexual harassment incidents in the area.
Assad’s office said in its Twitter account that the visit took place in Jobar, northeast of Damascus, on the occasion of the New Year. The district came under heavy Syrian air force strikes on Wednesday according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the nearly four-year conflict.
“If there was an area of joy which remained in Syria, it is thanks to the victories that you achieved in the face of terrorism,” Assad told troops, according to the Twitter account.