Tag Archives: traditions

Ancient Armenian Wedding Traditions

In 18th century Akhltskha, new brides would have special words embroidered onto their belts, such as “Ee Vayelum”, while the date of the wedding and initials would be placed on the lower right corner of the apron.

Also, a woman wore a cloth belt with her and her husband’s initials, as well as their wedding date embroidered on, helping society distinguish the wives from the available girls in Gyumri (former Alexandrapol).

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Bringing Rain with Bourbadig

Նուրին Նուրին էկել է

Շալէ շապիկ հագել է,

Կարմիր գօտիկ կապել է.

Մեր Նուրինին փայ տվէք,

Տաշտերով ալուր բերէք,

Մաղերով ջուր բերէք,

Մեր Նուրինին կշտացրէք,

Ուտենք-խմենք, քեֆ անենք:

______________________________

Nourin Nourin has come

Wearing a shirt and scarf

Red belt tied on

Give our Nourin her share

Bring her flour

Bring her water

Feed our Nourin

Eat, drink, and let’s have fun!

 

 

Made from a broom of twigs, the handmade doll called Nourin was in the hands of the village children as they sang such songs and walked from street to street, gathering ingredients to make gatnajash (today known as gatnabour or rice and milk pudding) and enjoy their day. The women of the village would give the eggs, flour, etc., and follow up by pouring water over the heads of the children.

At one point, this doll personified the rain-bringing goddess of water. The doll was made in the summers when droughts were common, in order to entice the rains to water their fields. Today, the doll still exists as part of Vartivar, even though the origins of this celebration can be tracked to the goddess Astghik. Churches give out wheat during Vartevar in order to keep the fields free of disasters. In order days, this would also be accompanied with dance, song and games to bring down the rain.

Nourin was a goddess who represented a strong matriarchy, but often also took on the image of a man. The spirit bore many names, including Khourtsgululu, Houchgululu, Mama-Chttig, Chichi-Mama, Chamcha-Khatun, Boubladig, Bourbadig, etc. Today, boubrig is the Armenian name for doll, coming from its olden name Bourbadig. Some of these names could have been derivations of colloquial words meaning beautiful. In Kghi, she was kalled Boubladigin; in Van, she was Khuntsgululu and Khourtsgululu; she was Nourin, Khushgururig or Khuchgururig in Shirak and Bayazet; in Aparan, she was Houchgururu, while in Arabkir` Mama-Chttig; in Garin, Agnoum and Armashum, she was Chichi-Mama, while in Akhalkalak he was Bourbadig. Whereas Eastern Armenians called her Nourin, he was Bourbadig or as a female form using the other names for the Western regions.

Nourin has also morphed over time into Nouri and Nari, then Nar or Nay. Today, many Armenian songs include “Nay-Nay” or “Hoy Nar” which may seem like jibberish to the modern individual but are actually words passed down over the centuries which were used to describe one god or another, while asking for a blessing.

Sources:
http://www.yerakouyn.com/?p=34184
(Սամվել Մկրտչյան. <<Տոներ: Հայկական ժողովրդական ծեսեր, սովորույթներ, հավատալիքներ (ավանդույթ և արդիականություն))

 

Armenian Traditions: Birth of a Child

Traditionally (especially in rural areas) Armenian families have a lot of children. A birth of a child, especially a boy, is a happy event which has always been welcome. On church holidays in front of the house where a baby was born music played and the house was decorated with green branches – the symbol of family continuation. The child is not shown to anybody but the relatives for 40 days after birth.

At birth, children receive gifts, mainly jewelry (holly crosses, gold medallions, etc). The first male child often is named after his grandfather; the same may go for the first female child. The Armenian mothers closely watch and constantly provide care/food to their children. Feeding a boy with his favorite dish is important; he needs strength to grow.

It is accepted that a person having any happy life occasion puts his hand on a head of his friend or relative saying “tarose kes” (“I pass it to you” )- wishing them the same good luck.

Armenian Lace Embroidery

Armenian women excelled in embroidery and the making of lace. Whereas in many nations lace and embroidery were luxuries adorning only the dresses of ladies of the court or the otherwise very wealthy, it was in Armenia part of the pride of every girl. Samples of exquisite work in silver belts, gold filigree rings, necklaces and other costume ornamentation and jewelry, are seen on most rural costumes.

There is some archaeological evidence suggesting the use of lace in prehistoric Armenia and the prevalence of pre-Christian symbolism in traditional designs would certainly suggest a pre-Christian root for this art form. In contrast to Europe where lace was the preserve of the nobility, in Armenia it decorated everything from traditional headscarves to lingerie and lace-making was part of many or most women’s lives.

Armenian Traditions- Christmas Celebrations

The Armenian Apostolic Church still uses the old ‘Julian’ Calendar. Thus, Christmas is celebrated on January 6th. The Christmas holiday season starts on New Year’s Eve (December 31st) and continues until the old Julian calendar’s New Year’s Eve on January 13th.

Some people do celebrate on December 25th, but Soorb Stepanos Day (St Steven’s day), not Christmas, unless, of course, they are Catholic. In most other countries St Stephen’s day is on December 26th or Boxing Day! In Armenian, Happy/Merry Christmas is Shnorhavor Amanor yev Surb Tznund (Շնորհավոր Ամանոր և Սուրբ Ծնունդ).

Historically, all Christian churches celebrated Christ’s birth on January 6th until the fourth century. According to Roman Catholic sources, the date was changed from January 6th to December 25th in order to override a pagan feast dedicated to the birth of the Sun which was celebrated on December 25th. At the time Christians used to continue their observance of these pagan festivities. In order to undermine and subdue this pagan practice, the church hierarchy designated December 25th as the official date of Christmas and January 6th as the feast of Epiphany. Armenia not being a satellite of Rome, was exempt from the change.

Traditionally, Armenians fast during the week leading up to Christmas. Devout Armenians may even refrain from food for the three days leading up to the Christmas Eve, in order to receive the Eucharist on a “pure” stomach.

Santa Claus/Gaghant Baba / Kaghand Papa traditionally comes on New Year’s Eve (December 31st) because Christmas Day itself is thought of as more of a religious holiday in Armenia. People believed that the doors of other “worlds” would open on December 31 and that they could tell the future, and that could even be seen in the pastries. If it became too puffy, it would be a good year.

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Christmas Eve is particularly rich in traditions. Preparations begin weeks in advance. Families start by cleaning their houses from top to bottom in anticipation of the local priest who visits each home to bless it with salt and water. Seeds of lentils, chickpeas, or wheat are placed on cotton balls and allowed to sprout so that families are reminded of the rebirth of life that comes in the spring.

Families gather for the Christmas Eve dinner (khetum, Խթում), which generally consists of: rice, fish, braided bread, basturma, beureg, soudjoukh, bean salads, and yogurt/wheat soup (tanabur, թանապուր). For New Years, instead of the pig thigh, which has become trendy these days, Armenians would place the “amitch”, which is a stuffed bird hanging in an oven (“tonir”). Dessert includes dried fruits and nuts, including sharots, which consists of whole shelled walnuts threaded on a string and encased in grape jelly, bastukh (a paper-like confection of grape jelly, cornstarch, and flour), figs, pomegranates, and anoushabour, a pudding made from wheat, berries and apricots, This lighter menu is designed to ease the stomach off the week-long fast and prepare it for the rather more substantial Christmas Day dinner. Children take presents of fruits, nuts, and other candies to older relatives.

Food plays a large role in Armenian Christmas trees and ornamentation. Fruits are often hung on trees along with the white doves that symbolize peace and golden bows for decoration. Ribbons in the three colors of the Armenian flag also garland the Christmas tree; red for the blood that has been shed for the country, orange for the rich land, and blue for the sky that watches over it.

During the holiday season, most homes feature a nativity scene. Children hang handkerchiefs from their roofs in the hopes that they will be filled with fried wheat, raisins, and coins. Children sing carols to passersby from the rooftops, chanting, “Rejoice and be glad! Open your bag and fill our handkerchiefs. Hallelujah, Hallelujah!” These carols are also sung by groups who go house to house, takign with them the bread blessed by the priest called a nshkhar. On New Years Eve their wishes are fulfilled when Gaghant Baba, the Christmas Father, visits them to distribute gifts.

More information:
http://suite101.com/article/an-armenian-christmas-a34744
http://www.expatclic.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=656:christmas-celebrations-in-the-armenian-diaspora&catid=56:general-articles-on-expatriation
http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/default.aspx?pageid=438&n=armenian-christmas—21-centuries-of-tradition-2011-01-04
http://ditord.com/2012/01/07/the-armenian-christmas-and-new-year-controversy/
http://blog.arpinegrigoryan.com/2009/01/new-year-celebrations-armenian-way.html