Twice a year, around Christmas and Easter, you are kindly requested to donate towards “Youghakin”. Youghakin is made up of two Armenian words: “yough” and “kin”, and literally means the price of oil, or donation in lieu of oil. The practice of offering oil dates back to the Old Testament era. In the book of Leviticus we are told about Grain Offering (also known as Meal Offering), which included fine flour, olive oil and incense, and was done in recognition of God's goodness and provisions (Lev 2; 6:14-23).
The tradition of offering oil continued in the Christian church with a different meaning. Believers would bring oil or donate money towards the purchase of oil in order to keep the oil-burning lanterns lit. From our Christian perspective, burning lanterns symbolize our living faith in Jesus Christ, who is the light himself. Our Lord Jesus Christ says, “I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).
According to Armenian Church tradition, when St. Gregory the Illuminator built the church of St. Garabed in Moush (Old Country), he enlightened the Holy Altar with an oil-burning lantern in order to encourage people in their faith. In the Church, there was believed to be a demon, which would come and extinguish the lantern every time St. Gregory went asleep. Troubled and spiritually overwhelmed, St. Gregory decides to fast and pray for 40 days, without closing his eyes, meanwhile vigilantly watching over the lantern. Unaware of this, the demon comes again to extinguish the lantern, but gets caught red-handed and killed by St. Gregory. Since then, the perpetual light of St. Gregory’s lantern illuminates our holy churches worldwide, emanating the light of our Resurrected Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
When you send your Youghakin donations, you are, in fact, refueling the symbolic lantern of faith, which St. Gregory the Illuminator lighted many years ago. At this Christmastide, once again we invite you to ignite the kindling love of God in your hearts from the traditional lantern of St. Gregory as we all try to renew our faith and spiritual life.
Please make a donation for the continued success of the St. John mission.