Date of Performance/Collection: February 14, 2020
Primary Language: Armenian
Other Language(s): Arabic, Turkish, English, and Spanish
Name of Ritual : Matakh (մաթախ)
Description: The Ritual involves the sacrifice of a goat or a cow. They use the blood from the sacrifice to put a cross on a child or a person who has gone through a difficult ordeal. The blood needs to stay on for one day. After the sacrifice, they must cook the meat and distribute it to 7 houses.
Background: The informant is of Armenian Lebanese descent and has lived in America since their adolescent years. They say that this ritual is very common among Armenian communities around the world. This is usually done if someone has struggled with a harrowing ordeal such as cancer, an accident, or family death. This is done as a way to be thankful for surviving the ordeal and somewhat asking for better times and continued peace. The informant says that this ritual has origins in Paganism although they couldn’t elaborate more on that topic due to lack of knowledge on it.
Context: The informant told me this during a conversation about folklore at dinner.
Thoughts: I definitely can relate to this piece because I am also of Armenian descent and I myself have took part in Matakhs. It is definitely a sacred ritual that is done during very hard times. This is done among families and is very personal. I think it is interesting that this ritual has a pagan origin. I did not know much about its origin and would not have attributed it to paganism because Armenians are very devout Christians. I think this shows how Pagan rituals have carried onto Christian traditions.