Yerkrapah Day in Armenia Date in the current year: May 8, 2024

Yerkrapah Day in Armenia Yerkrapah Day is an Armenian professional holiday celebrating the Yerkrapah Volunteer Union, a veteran group representing the veterans of the First Nagorno-Karabakh War who fought in the Yerkrapah Volunteer Battalion.

When the First Nagorno-Karabakh war between Armenia and Azerbaijan broke out, thousands of Armenian volunteers who wanted to join the fight started to form volunteer detachments inspired by the so-called fedayi groups that protected Armenian villages during the Ottoman reign. The Yerkrapah Volunteer Battalion was one of the most influential volunteer detachments during the war; its name can be translated from Armenian as “protectors of the land”.

In July 1993, Vazgen Sargsyan, the commander of the Yerkrapah Volunteer Battalion, founded the Yerkrapah Volunteer Union, which initially consisted of 5,000 veterans of the First Nagorno-Karabakh War. Although other patriots joined the organization over time, veterans have always made up the core of Yerkrapah.

Yerkrapah became an influential power in the domestic politics of Armenia after the end of the war. By 1998, its faction led by Sargsyan, who was often referred to as “the power behind the throne”, was the largest faction in the Armenian parliament. The organization began to lose its political influence after Sargsyan’s assassination on October 27, 1999; it hasn’t been a major political power since 2001.

Nevertheless, Yerkrapah continues to be a large and influential non-governmental organization. It also serves as part of the reserve of the Armenian Armed Forces. Thousands of Yerkrapah volunteers fought in the 2016 Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict (April War) and in the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War.

The youth wing of the Yerkrapah Volunteer Union, named Patani Yerkrapah (Young Protectors of the Land), was established in 2014 by Yerkrapah, the Ministry of Education and Science, and the Ministry of Education and Defense of Armenia. Patani Yerkrapah comprises patriotic clubs created in Armenian educational institutions to teach Armenian youth about their country’s history and instill patriotism.

Yerkrapah Day was officially established in 2001 to highlight the contribution of the Yerkrapah Volunteer Battalion during the First Nagorno-Karabakh War. The date of the holiday, May 8, was chosen to commemorate the Battle of Shusha fought on May 8–9, 1992, which marked a turning point in the war and is regarded as one of Armenia’s most important military victories.

Although Yerkrapah Day is an official holiday, it is not a non-working day unless it falls on a weekend. It is mainly celebrated by members of the Yerkrapah Volunteer Union who regard it as their professional holiday.

The next day, however, is a public holiday named Victory and Peace Day. It celebrates two important events in Armenian history: the liberation of Shushi in 1992 and the end of World War II. Members of Yerkrapah and Patani Yerkrapah typically participate in various ceremonies and other festive events held on the occasion of Victory and Peace Day.

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Yerkrapah Day in Armenia, holidays in Armenia, professional holidays, Yerkrapah Volunteer Battalion, Yerkrapah Volunteer Union