Armenian Mythology the Nation’s History 2
The Armenian mythology originated in ancient Indo-European traditions, precisely Proto-Armenian, which progressively combined Anatolian, Hurro-Urartian, Mesopotamian, Iranian, Roman, and Greek beliefs and deities.
The Ancient Armenians were nature worshippers, they worshiped eagles, lions, the sun, and heaven. They are believed to have worshipped a creator called Ar (Ara), embodied as the sun (Arev or Areg); they called themselves Arevortik "children of the sun".
Nature worship was replaced with national gods, originally native Armenian in nature, among them Vanatur, the supreme god of the Armenian pantheon; Nar, the goddess of fertility; Nane, the goddess of motherhood, wisdom, and family protection; Tir, the god of writing and science, which shows that Armenia had a written language before their Christian alphabet was invented in the 5th century; Tsovinar, goddess of the sea; followed by Zoroastrianism and Mithraism.
The pantheon of pre-Christian Armenia changed over the centuries, it was modified through, Hurro-Urartian, Semitic, Iranian and Greek influences. The common belief that spanned many or all pagan Armenian pantheons was the idea of a ruling triad of supreme gods, usually comprising a chief, creator god, his thunder God son, and a mother Goddess.
After the Iranian dominance in Armenia in the 1st millennium BCE, Zoroastrianism had a major influence on the Armenian religion. Till the late Parthian period, the Armenian lands abided by a syncretic form of Mazdaism, which mixed Iranian religious concepts with traditional Armenian beliefs. For instance, the supreme god of the Armenian pantheon, Vanatur, was later replaced by Aramazd (the Parthian form of Ahura Mazda). However, the Armenian copy of Aramazd preserved many native Armenian aspects. Similarly, the traditional Armenian goddess of fertility, Nar, was replaced by Anahit, which may be derived from Persian Anahita, although the Armenian goddess was entirely distinct from her Iranian counterpart.
In the Hellenistic age (3rd to 1st centuries BCE), ancient Armenian deities were known as ancient Greek deities: Aramazd with Zeus, Anahit with Artemis, Vahagn with Heracles, Astghik with Aphrodite, Nane with Athena, Mihr with Hephaestus, Tir with Apollo.
After Christianity adoption in the 4th century CE, ancient myths and beliefs transformed to involve more closely Christian beliefs. Biblical characters took over the functions of the archaic gods and spirits.
All the pagan temples were destroyed after the adoption of Christianity. The Temple of Garni (Armenian: Garnu tacar) is located in the village of Garni in Kotayk Province, Armenia, and it was a pagan temple dedicated to “Mihr” the deity of the light of heaven and the God of the Sun.
The influences of Zoroastrian and Mithraic beliefs
Zoroastrian and Mithraic beliefs still exist. For instance, 14 February, became a religious holiday known as Diarentarach (following the 40 days after Jesus's birth on Armenian Christmas, 6 January). This ancient tradition symbolizes purification, good fortune, and for young couples also fertility.
Another holiday, celebrated in July, is Vardavar, or the “Feast of Water”, where all day long, people sprinkle or splash water on one another. There is much laughter and joy on this day, especially for children. A tradition that is also still very popular is the tying of strips of cloth on a bush or tree, in the hopes that God will see or hear their wishes.
The following are a few examples of what the names of the months were called when the old Armenian calendar was in use: the first month, Navasard, New Year (11 August), honored the beloved goddess, Anahit; the seventh month, Mehakan, Festival of Mithra; the eighth month, Areg, Sun month; the ninth month, Ahekan, Fire Festival.
In the 18th century, when the Armenian calendar was reformed, January 1 was recognized as the New Year. Also, in the old Armenian calendar, the days of the month were given names of old gods, heroes, or natural objects. Some examples are Day 1, Areg, Sun; Day 2, Hrand, Earth mixed with Fire; Day 8, Mher, (Mithra); Day 15, Aramazd, (Ahura Mazda); Day 19, Ahahit, (Anahita); Day 24, Lusnak, Half Moon; Day 27, Vahagn, (Zoroastrian Vahram); Day 30, Gisherarev, Evening Star.