May being famous for its victories, perhaps is the best time to visit Armenia. One can enjoy official celebrations held in Yerevan and take tours in Armenia the time when nature is awakening. Besides Labour Day observed on May 1, Armenians also celebrate the liberation of the city Shoushi in Nagorno Karabakh, the victory of the Great Patriotic War and the proclamation of the First Republic of Armenia.
May 1 – International Workers’ Day
On May 1 International Workers’ Day is celebrated in more than 140 countries, including Armenia. In some countries it is celebrated on a different day. May 1 first was celebrated as the labour and workers International Day in 1890. Before that, on May 1 1886 American workers organized a strike demanding improvement for working conditions and shortening working day up to 8 hours. The strike, however, ended up by clashes with police, and as a result 8 policemen and 4 people were killed, dozens of people were wounded. In 1889, the International’s second congress held a meeting in Paris and formally recognized May Day as an annual event in memory of Chicago workers’ speeches.
In the early 20th century Russia also joined the revolutionary movement. After the formation of the Soviet Union May 1 was commemorated with great fanfare and large-scale parade. When the USSR was collapsed, this holiday was pushed to the background because of war and various social issues, but it’s celebrated again in the recent years. This is an off day in Armenia. May 1 is also day for the elimination of exploitation and unemployment, as well as protection of working rights.
May 9 – Victory day
May 9 is a triple holiday for the Armenian people. The Armenian people have had a considerable contribution to the fight of The Great Patriotic War began in 1941. The term Great Patriotic War is used to describe the conflict fought during the period from 1941 to 1945 along the many fronts of the Eastern Front of World War II between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany and its allies. 600 thousand Armenians have fought on different fronts and had their contribution to the victory.106 of USSR 11600 heroes were Armenians, 4 veterans got the title of marshals (Baghramyan, Babajanyan, Khudyakov or Khamperyants and Aghanov), 160 participants got the title of generelas and one admiral (Isakov). 70 thousand Armenian soldiers were awarded military medals, 27 soldiers have been the glory order-bearers, 104 people were awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union. Nelson Stepanyan was awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union twice.
May 9 – Day of liberation of Shoushi
Another crucial victory on May 9 is the liberation of the ancient capital Shoushi of Nagorno Karabakh, which became a turning-point in the Karabakh war and led to a series of military victories by Armenian forces in the course of the conflict. According to the author of the plan of military operation Arkadi Ter-Tadevosyan the situation in Stepanakert and adjacent areas was unbearable started from February 1992. Semi-circle was formed as a result of which Stepanakert was under continuous fire. Since mid-February rockets fired Stepanakert and Shoushi like volley and spread devastations. Almost 70 percent of Stepanakert was destroyed, people were living in basements, there was neither bread, nor water. The situation in spring 1992 forced to liberate Shoushi.
Armenian government didn’t approve the plan of military operation, because of which deliberation of 72 commanders took place and resolved to start the operation. The operation got the unusual name “Wedding in the Mountains”. At that time defense minister Vazgen Sargsyan considered Arkadi Ter-Tadevosyan’s (also referred as Komandos) and Samvel Babayan’s (military, public and political figure, Lieutenant General) military plan impracticable. He believed that it was too early to implement such an operation and it should be well prepared. But these two courageous people decided to organize Vazgen Sarsyan’s wedding on mountains after liberation of Shoushi and so the operation got the name “Wedding in the Mountains”. The preparations for capture began. Komandos’s squad consisted of 3800 people. The operation starts at 02:30am on May 8. After 26.5 hours Shoushi was liberated. The news of liberation were reported to Arkadi Ter-Tadevosyan on May 9, at 04:30am. Nowadays Shoushi is a flourishing town you should visit while taking tours to Armenia with tour agencies.
May 9 – The day of the NKR Defense Army formation
The anniversary of the creation of the Defense Army of Nagorno Karabakh is also celebrate don May 9. Since 1990s volunteer units and squads were formed in the NKR. In 1992 the volunteer units got the state status of self-defense forces. The first major military success of those forces was the liberation of Shoushi on May 9 which was later declared the day of the NKR Defense Army formation.Both in Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh May 9 is celebrated with great fanfare. The main events in Yerevan are held in Victory Park. You can always stop while visiting Armenia. The museum located inside the pedestal of Mother Armenia statue mainly touches upon 2 topics, i.e. the participation of Armenians in Great Patriotic War and Artsakh liberation war.
May 28 – The anniversary of Armenia’s first republic
The last celebration during this spring warming month is the declaration First Republic of Armenia. On May 22-28, due to incredible and brilliant victories in the battles of Sardarapat, Karakilisa and Aparan, Armenians were able to prevent Turkish to invade Yerevan and as a result Armenians were able to restore the statehood lost 9 centuries ago and on May 2 Republic of Armenia was declared. The capital of the first republic was Yerevan. RA survived only 2,5 years, until December 2, 1920 when 11th Red army troops entered Yerevan and the republic became part of the Soviet Union. When the Armenian SSR declared independence in 1991, the parliament has set up May 28 as an off day. Nowadays the events are traditionally held in Sardarapat and Aparan.
Taking part in the events held on the occasion of these celebrations is a good opportunity to get acquainted with today’s culture when you visit Armenia. Tour agencies in Armenia have some tours designed in a way that give opportunity to visit the places that directly or indirectly are connected to May events, such as Sardarapat Museum.