USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘Armenia’
Humor

Vartan

Jesus Christ decides to check if humans recognize him… So He goes to Yerevan and asks Hagop, the first guy he meets:

JC: Do you know who I am?

H: You are Vartan’s grandfather.

JC: No.

H: May be Vartan’s father?

JC: No.

H: Then you must be one of Vartan’s relatives.

JC: No, but why Vartan?

H: Well, I am sure I have seen your portrait at Vartan’s house.

Background information: This is an Armenian joke. Hagop and Vartan are recurring characters in Armenian jokes.

Context: The informant told me this joke in a conversation about folklore.

Thoughts: This may be my favorite out of the Armenian jokes I’ve collected. The fact that Jesus Christ comes to Earth to see how things are going, and the first person he asks doesn’t recognize him, is pretty funny. Hagop sees a picture of Jesus Christ at Vartan’s house, and automatically assumes he must be Vartan’s family member, because why else would he have a picture of a man hanging in his house?

Humor

Garabed and Miss Makrouhi 

MM: You have six apples and you give half to your brother Hagop, how many apples will be left?

G: That’s obvious! Five and a half apples, Miss Makrouhi.

Background information: This is an Armenian joke. Hagop and Garabed are recurring characters in Armenian jokes.

Context: The informant told me about this in a conversation about Armenian folklore

Thoughts: This plays on the definition of the word “half.” It can either mean half of the entire set of apples, which means three apples, or mean half of an apple. Garabed uses this to his advantage, trying to keep as much apples as possible, and to give less apples to his brother. This is a common trope between siblings, kind of like a sibling rivalry. I think it’s quite a witty joke.

Humor

Garabed and Vartan

G: I have heard they have increased the price of vodka.

V: Nah, that’s imposible.

G: My friend Garabed, why do you think so?

V: It’s priceless…

Background information: This is a popular Armenian joke. Garabed and Vartan are recurring characters in Armenian jokes.

Context: The informant told me this joke in a conversation about folklore.

Thoughts: Vartan greatly values vodka, so much so that he can’t put a price on it; it’s too good to be priced accordingly, which is why it’s impossible for the cost to increase. It’s a funny and witty joke.

Humor

Hagop and Dr. Vartan

Hague goes to Dr. Vartan.

V: You are such an educated person, why did you go to a witch doctor?

H: I don’t know.

V: What was the stupid thing he advised you to do?

H: Well, he said to come to you.

Background information: This is an Armenian joke. Hague and Vartan are recurring characters in Armenian jokes.

Context: The informant told me this joke in a conversation about folklore.

Thoughts: This is a funny joke, in which one person’s questions backfires on himself and leads to him being insulted to his face. Dr. Vartan wonders why Hague was stupid enough to go to a witch doctor, whose practices Vartan doesn’t believe in (it makes sense – the doctor would obviously think he knows more, since he is formally educated in medical matters). He then asks what was the stupid advice given (since he doesn’t believe in the witch doctor’s powers), and Hague fires back and tells him the stupid advice was to go to Vartan. It is a witty joke, and a clever and inadvertent way to insult someone.

 

general

Vardavar

“So Vardavar is an Armenian holiday that dates back from the pagan times, and back then they worshipped a god Astghik who was the goddess of fertility and love and water. Since Armenia is pretty arid, they celebrate the harvest time with water mostly. Originally, people would collect flowers like roses and vartivers, some kind of yellow flower, and throw them everywhere. The flower thing kind of died out, but they also had a ceremony of just pouring water everywhere, just dumping it on random people. That’s the big part of it today, and you can douse children, women, men, anyone, and they all enjoy it. It’s basically a way to celebrate Armenian cultural history and remember where we came from.”

 

This is from my roommate who was born in Yerevan, Armenia, but he and his family moved to the U.S. in the late 1990s, before he was even five years old. However, he has spent most of his summers back in Armenia, visiting family and whatnot. He is fluent in Armenian and speaks it at home. He grew up with Vardavar because of those summers spent in Armenia with relatives, so he always participated in it. To him, it’s a celebration of his culture and history, and just a fun holiday, and for him it brings back memories from his childhood summers.

 

general

Hayk

“Hayk is like the forefather of the Armenian people, he’s basically what Abraham is to the Hebrews, but for Armenians. The story goes that, I think some time during the third millenium BC, the Babylonian king Bel attempted to take over basically everything around him, including Armenian land. However, Hayk, an Armenian warrior, resisted him. He set up a little town at the foot of Mount Ararat and recruited a makeshift army. One day when Bel and his army were going through a mountain pass on Mount Ararat, Hayk decided to attack him to end his reign. During the battle, Hayk shot an arrow from a ridiculously long distance at Bel and ended up hitting him and killing him. Since their leader was dead, the Babylonians just kind of left, and Armenia again belonged to the Armenians.”

This is from my roommate who was born in Yerevan, Armenia, but he and his family moved to the U.S. in the late 1990s, before he was even five years old. However, he has spent most of his summers back in Armenia, visiting family and whatnot. He is fluent in Armenian and speaks it at home. He heard this myth from his extended family in Armenia and from his parents, and he adds that it’s a pretty seminal story for Armenians. For him, Hayk essentially stands as a symbol for the entire Armenian population, and it is a story that reminds him that Armenians are strong, independent, and can overcome adversity.

general

Aralez

“The Aralezs are a kind of mythical creature from Armenia. To put it simply, they are essentially like a cross between a dog or a wolf and an eagle, so basically a dog with wings. Legend has it that they live on Mount Ararat, which is pretty much the most sacred landmark to Armenians. They used to be worshipped along with a lot of the pagan gods and goddesses before Armenia was Christianized and stuff. I guess the most notable thing about them is that they come down from the mountain in times of war to lick and heal the wounds of Armenian people. I’ve also heard of some people entombing their dead relatives in towers so that the Aralezs could come down and revive them.”

This is from my roommate who was born in Yerevan, Armenia, but he and his family moved to the U.S. in the late 1990s, before he was even five years old. However, he has spent most of his summers back in Armenia, visiting family and whatnot. He is fluent in Armenian and speaks it at home. He’s never really believed in the Aralezs, but he learned about it from his grandpa who would always tell him stories, with some involving Armenian mythology.

[geolocation]