(Some parts of this conversation took place in Armenian and have been translated to English)
Informant: Have you ever heard of Kyomba?
Me: I have yeah my family does it. But I noticed that not many Armenians make it here [in America].
Informant: Yes, I have noticed that too. That’s not good.
Me: How did you do it in Armenia? Maybe it’s different than how my family does it here.
Lili: Well, every year on January fourth… or was it the fifth… no, sorry, it was the fourth. January fourth. My mom and I bake the Kyomba. It is a pastry filled with ground walnuts and sugar. And in the dough, we hide a 1-dram coin [dram is Armenian currency]. We bake the Kyomba, then we slice it into equal pieces. One for each family member. Whoever gets the coin had good luck for the rest of the year.
Me: Yeah, we do it that way too. But we would also cut a slice for the house. So the house we lived in would also get a piece. Also my grandma and I hid a quarter in the dough because we didn’t have any dram.
Lili: I guess it does the same thing. I’m glad at least somebody makes Kyomba here [in America] too! I didn’t think you would. The best part about this, I think, is just making it. To be honest, it tastes good, but making it is so fun that I don’t really care about the taste.
Kyomba is made every year on January fourth. It is a casual event to bring the family together. The rules governing the Kyomba-making process are not strictly enforced. My informant learned of this tradition from her mother. Kyomba is usually not performed when there was a recent loss of a relative or family member.
During the conversation, my informant revealed that she learned this tradition from her mother. She is fond of this tradition as it results in her spending time with her mother.
Hearing my informant talk about this tradition and witnessing her excitement when she was explaining it made me realize that many people perform this tradition because it brings the family together. This recipe is many, many centuries old and uses ingredients that would have been relatively cheap and easy to come by. Therefore, my informant and I can conclude that this was a tradition practiced by the lower class. The purpose of the Kyomba tradition is not to bestow a year of luck upon the one who finds the coin, but to bring the family together for the entire year to observe the good (or bad) luck of the winner.