Author Archives: Anastasia

Armenian Proverb About Reputation

հոգի գնա, ոչ թե անունը

Transliteration: hogi gna, voch’ t’e anuny

Translation: The soul can rise, but the name stays.

Better to die than to have your image/name tarnished.

Background Information: Armenian proverb used by Armenians around the world.

Context: I was told this proverb by the informant when I was interviewing him about his culture. I was specifically interested in learning about Armenian proverbs because of the wide use of them in the Armenian culture.

Thoughts: I think that this proverb definitely provides a glimpse into the Armenian culture. It shows how paramount image can be in Armenian society. It would be better for your soul to leave your body than to have a bad reputation. I think it is interesting to note the matter of fact quality of this proverb. It lacks much use of figurative speech and is very straightforward about its motive/meaning.

Arabic Proverb

إذا ضربت الماء فسيظل الماء.

Transliteration: iidha darabat alma’ fasayazilu alma

Translation: If you hit the water it will still be water

When someone is trying to explain something to someone else and they are not absorbing the information.

Background Information: Common Arabic proverb used in different parts of the middle east such as Lebanon.

Context: The informant had immigrated to the United States from Lebanon when he was in his adolescence. I started interviewing the informant when he visited my house for dinner. I specifically asked him for a common Arabic proverb and this was the first that came into his mind.

Thoughts: I think that this proverb doesn’t explain much about Arabic culture but is just a simple way of explaining that someone is not understanding what you are saying. It reminds me of the American proverb that says that “talking to you is like talking to a wall”. This just means that that there is no productive communication being made.

Armenian Legend of Akhtamar

Ախթամար

Transliteration: Akhtamar

Translation: Oh Tamar

Description by Informant:

There was an Armenian Princess named Tamar who lived at Lake Van which is a historic lake in Armenia. She was in love with a common man (a peasant). According to legend, the guy would swim from the island to mainland to see Princess Tamar. Tamar would hold a light for him so he could see as he swam in the lake to come see her. One day her father finds out and follows her. As she was holding the light, her father approached her and smashed the light. Therefore, leaving the man in the middle of the lake without any light and direction to swim. Legend says that he died in the lake crying “Akhtamar, Akhtamar!” (Oh, Tamar Oh Tamar!). Those words can be heard to this day at night at the lake. The island was later renamed Akhtamar.

Background Information: This is a famous legend in Armenia, especially near the city of Akhtamar. The legend is kept alive through memorates by people who allege that they have heard the words Akhtamar near the lake.

Context: The informant told me about this legend during a conversation in which I asked her to tell me about an Armenian legend that she knows about.

Thoughts: Legends are often told as a way to tell us what to believe. The island of Akhtamar is no longer a part of Armenia as it has been occupied by Turkey. I think this legend is used as a reminder that this land was once Armenia’s and that in a sense it still is to this day because you can “hear” the remnants of the past through the commoner’s voice crying for his love Tamar.

Armenian Superstition About Newborn Babies

Explanation: Armenians have some superstitious custom not to show or introduce a newborn baby to friends, neighbors, or extended families for the first 40 days. It is believed that this is done for the safety and medical precaution for the baby, but it can also be done to protect the baby from the evil eye/ evil spirits.

Background Information: Widely popular Armenian custom for newborn babies. Almost every Armenian follows this precaution when they have a baby.

Context: The informant told me about this custom during a video call in which I asked her to tell me about an Armenian tradition/custom that she knows about.

Thoughts: As an Armenian myself, I have observed this custom being practiced in my own family when a member has had a baby. I think it is done to make sure that the baby is safe and healthy. Im sure it was done in the past because of the high infant mortality rate in the Armenian villages due to disease and malnutrition. This has translated to modern day even though, the chances of disease and malnurtrition in babies is much lower than before. I think the health of babies is so crucial for Armenians because of how important it is for them to continue on the Armenian culture/ heritage due to the Turkish attempt at genocide against Armenians in the early 20th century.

Traditional Armenian Dish

Պասուց Տոլմա

Transliteration: Pasus Tolma

Translation: Lent’s Stuffed cabbage

Description: Pasus Tolma is a popular Armenian dish which is a lent classic meal that most Armenians eat not only for lent but also year round. Pasus Tolma can be see seen on the table’s of any Armenian gatherings such as birthdays, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and other gatherings, but it is the most popular dish before Easter when people are on the lent diet. Pasus Tolma is cabbage leaves stuffed with beans, lentil’s, garbanzo beans and bulgar. Best served cold.

Background Information: Pasus Tolma is a popular traditional Armenian dish prepared primarily for lent but can be served at many different gatherings.

Context: The informant told me about this dish during a video call in which I asked her to tell me about an Armenian traditional recipe that she knows about.

Thoughts: As an Armenian I am also aware of this dish and have participated in its consumption during lent. The name Pasus Tolma literally translates as a Lent version of Tolma which is a popular Armenian dish that is comprised of cabbage leaves stuffed with meat. I understand why this dish would be used in lent as Georgian Christians do not eat meat during lent so they had to make a vegetarian version of the popular dish Tolma. This is a folk religious tradition/recipe because it is not an official meal for lent. It was made by the people as a way to find something to eat during lent. It is also folklore because of its multiplicity and variation. Some versions use rice instead of bulgar and other iterations have different legumes instead of garbanzo beans and lentils.