YEREVAN—The Armenian government has approved the creation of a new National Day called “Citizen’s Day” to be held on the last Saturday in the month of April.
The new holiday is meant to celebrate the events of the Velvet Revolution—the peaceful uprising which toppled the regime of President Serge Sarkisian between April and May of last year. The new Armenian government, which was elected in December, is largely made up of prominent civic activists and veterans of those protests.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan announced the decision on Facebook. He clarified that the new national holiday is not meant to glorify his incoming government. He insisted that it would celebrate what he called “the victory of the people, of democracy.” He left the specifics on how the holiday should be celebrated to online discussion among citizens.
Some Armenians have taken to social media to criticize the move to enshrine the Velvet Revolution in a national holiday as an exercise of triumphalism for Pashinyan and his followers. One social media user commented under the Prime Minister’s post, “Even the Bolsheviks waited a decade before immortalizing the October Revolution as an official holiday.”
Others expressed concern with the holiday being so close to April 24, the day of commemoration for the Armenian Genocide. Armenia also observes International Workers Day (also known as May Day) several days later on May 1.
Not everyone disagreed with the Prime Minister’s announcement. Among those who lauded the decision, however, was the famous, if long-dead, Armenian composer Gomidas Vartabed:
The law was drafted by the Ministry of Justice. In case it ever does interfere with the Armenian Genocide, Citizen’s Day will be moved from the last Saturday of April to the last Sunday. Armenia currently lists 15 official national holidays.