Jrotsi: on the Wet Tracks of the Funniest Holiday of Summer

Vardavar, Vardevar, Vardevorv, Jrotsi (watering): the breezy holiday of hot summer is known among people by these names. There is one aim ‒ to be refreshed, the wish is to have fun, the purport is to purify and be purified, and the celebrating is simple, funny and easy.

Before we have a “master class” on fully becoming a part of this holiday, let’s first get acquainted with the short historical overview that will help us better understand the main idea of the holiday (of course after having a great time).

The country that was the first to adopt Christianity as a state religion celebrates consistently almost all the church holidays, adapting them to people’s lifestyle and finding something joyful in them.

Still the origin of the holiday is also linked to the pre-Christian period when, after finishing their main field works and gathering grain in July, people organized a big celebration by praising and making donations to the pagan god Mihr. The main component of the celebration was water ‒ the main guarantee for good harvest.

The Christian period, however, links it to the Transfiguration of Christ. When the apostles went up Mount Tabor, Jesus Christ transfigured in front of their eyes. As water is the symbol of purity and faith, people would spray rosewater on each other, they would also release doves.

The deeper we dig and explore the legends, myths and even the historical events, the more options we find about this holiday. Still, I have briefly presented the two most common ones.

Now let’s pass to the most interesting part of the article. If you’re reading this article and wondering why the two heroes of the photoshoot are in the middle of water jets, I need to disappoint you by saying that you haven’t yet felt a special bunch of emotions, dear. As people say, you haven’t yet played the drenching game, haven’t slipped and fallen on the ground, haven’t said “I’m going somewhere, don’t water me”, and the most enjoyable, you haven’t splashed someone with water who would himself/herself ask not to do it because he/she is going out… If you’re unfamiliar with these expressions, with warming water in bottles under the sun and taking the worst bucket from your home for a day, then  hurry up, you still have time to join in the fun this summer: pour water over the others, be watered yourself and, most importantly, drench someone who is going somewhere all dressed up. Yes, that is what I am saying to you: the author of these lines and the leading watered person at jrotsi.

Joking apart, that is the only day of the year when it is strictly prohibited to leave the house dressed up, it’s a big holiday that is celebrated throughout Armenia. Regardless of age and even the weather, everybody is playing, pouring water over each other and, no offence.

Actually, in addition to being funny and much awaited by children, the holiday also has deep roots, an ability to unite people and in this age of modern technology give an opportunity to leave all the technical equipment away from water in a safe place at home and fully enjoy the day out of the phone screens.  

On the day the center of Yerevan turns into a big open-air hall where the strangers meet, the offended people are reconciled and those who see each other for the first time easily communicate.  

For the most hospitable people in the world and the food lover nation this is the only holiday that doesn’t include any eating traditions: there is no need to spend money on delicious food, all one needs is a good mood. Oh, just a minute, I forgot to mention one more thing that you need: don’t forget to get a bucket from you mother or grandmother: the medium depth is enough.

Jrotsi is a movable holiday and is celebrated on Sunday between the 28th of June and the 1st of August. You may also become a small part of this great holiday if you’re in Armenia on the 28th of July, holding a bucket and going out to join the celebration, having left the best attire and modern technology.

Author: Zara Ghazaryan

Photographer: Vaghinak Ghazaryan