What traditions and customs are there in Armenia?
A review of the traditions and customs of the Caucasian country, Armenia.
Food in daily life
The staple foods are bread and salt. Harissa a traditional food, consists of wheat grain and slow-cooked lamb. Armenians everywhere love grilled meats and vegetables. The pomegranate, with its symbolic association with fertility, is the national fruit. Armenia is also a country of vineyards and grapes.
When speaking of friendship, Armenians say that “we have bread and salt between us.” In state protocol, when dignitaries are welcomed, bread and salt are presented.
Breakfasts on non-working days are sometimes important meeting events. Khash is prepared in large pots, cattle legs are boiled and served with spices and garlic and consumed with Armenian brandy.
Armenians place great emphasis on hospitality and generosity. Respect for guests is also emphasized.
Christianity has been the state religion in Armenia since 301. During Soviet rule, religious expression was not encouraged. The emphasis was on atheism. However, Armenians have continued to attend church, particularly at life crisis events and rites of passage.
Most Armenians adhere to the Armenian Apostolic Church. There are also adherents to Catholic, Evangelical and Protestant denominations.
The church has been a symbol of the national culture. It has been considered as the home of the Armenians and the bearer of the Armenian culture.
The Armenian Apostolic Church has two Catholic seats: the All-Armenian Catholics in Etchmiadzin, Armenia, and Cilicia, in Antelias, Lebanon. The two venues are organized differently. Each has its own educational system and hierarchy of priests. Among the Armenians there are celibate and married priests.
There are also two patriarchs: one in Istanbul and one in Jerusalem. Women are not ordained priestesses. There is only one female order: the Kalfayian sisters.
Death and afterlife
Most Armenians believe in the Christian view of death and the afterlife. The Apostolic Church, unlike some Christian institutions, does not emphasize sin and redemption. In the same way, the notion of purgatory is absent.
Armenians pay special attention to remembering the dead. After each mass, or badarak, there is a memorial service for the dead. The seventh day after death, the fortieth day, and annual remembrance are the accepted way of paying respect to the dead. The cemeteries are well cared for.
The communion between the living and the dead is seen in the frequent visits to the graves of loved ones. Food and brandy are served to the dead. Birthdays of dead loved ones are also celebrated.
New Year’s Eve (or Amanor, Nor Dari, or Gaghant/Kaghand) is a secular holiday. Other secular holidays include: Women’s Day April 7; commemoration of the genocide of the Armenians of 1915 April 24; Independence Day of the first Armenian republic of 1918, and May 28; Independence Day of the current Republic of Armenia, September 21.
Arts and Humanities
In the Republic of Armenia, following the policies established during the pre-Soviet and Soviet times, the state has been supporting the arts and humanities. In recent years, due to economic difficulties, there has been a trend towards privatization. State support is declining.
In the Diaspora, the arts and humanities depend on local fundraising efforts, Armenian organizations, and the initiative of individuals. In the Republic of Armenia, artists dedicate themselves full time to their respective arts. In the diaspora, however, artists rarely support themselves and rarely make a living through their art.
Armenians have a rich history of oral and written literature. Parts of the earliest oral literature were recorded by M. Khorenatsi, a 4th-century historian. During the 19th century, under the influence of a European interest in folklore and oral literature, a new movement began that gave rise to the collection of oral epic poems, songs, myths, and stories.
Written literature has been divided into five main epochs: the golden age of the 5th century, or vosgetar after the adoption of the alphabet; the Middle Ages; the Armenian Renaissance (in the 19th century); the modern literature of Armenia and Constantinople (Istanbul) at the beginning of the 20th century; and contemporary literature from Armenia and the diaspora.
The 5th century has been internationally recognized as a highly productive time. He was also known for his translations of various works, including the Bible.
In fact, the clergy has been the main producer of Armenian literary works. One of the best-known early works is Gregory Narekatzi’s Lamentations… During medieval times, a tradition of popular literature and poetry gradually emerged.
In the 19th century, the vernacular of Eastern Armenia (Russian and Iranian) became the literary language of the East, and the vernacular of Istanbul and of Western Armenia (Ottoman Turkish) became the basis of the literary revival of the Armenians who lived in the Ottoman Empire.
Armenian literature has been influenced by European literary styles and movements. It also reflects the tragic history of its people. The 1915 genocide caused the death of the vast majority of Armenian writers of the time. The period immediately after the genocide was marked by silence.
Eventually a diaspora literature emerged with centers in Paris, Aleppo, and Beirut. In Soviet Armenia, the literary tradition followed Russian trends with a recognizable Armenian voice. Literature received the support of the Soviet state. A writers’ union was established. In the days of glasnost and perestroika, the emerging leaders belonged to the writers’ union.
Historically, Armenian art has been associated with architecture, bas-reliefs, stone carvings, stelae, illuminated manuscripts, and tapestries. Since the Armenian Renaissance during the 19th century, interest in drawing, painting, sculpture, textiles, ceramics, embroidery, and lace has intensified.
During the Soviet period, the graphic arts were particularly encouraged. A new, brightly colored Armenian style emerged in painting. In Soviet Armenia, there was an interest in landscape painting, rustic images, a focus on rural life, and ethnographic genre paintings.
A national art gallery houses the works of Sarian, M. Avedissian, Hagopian, Soureniantz and other artists of the Soviet era. In the current republic, there are open-air exhibitions of emerging painters, and new private initiatives are taking place.
Armenia has a long tradition of musical art, dating back to prehistory, and Armenian musicians played a key role in modernizing Eastern music during the 19th century. Traditional Armenian music differs from Eastern music in its sobriety.
The Republic of Armenia has so far continued the trend established in the Soviet years. The opera house, theaters and concert halls are the pride of Armenians and have remained very accessible to the general public.
Armenian folk, classical and religious music, as well as its composers, such as Komitas and A. Khatchadourian, have been known throughout the world. Folk dance groups have also participated in various international festivals.
Share the customs and traditions of Armenia.