Holidays and Celebrations – Armenia

“at birthday parties for my family, we have the ENTIRE family over…i mean like…a loooot of people. and we play music and dance, perform music for the family, drink tea, coffee. usually the parents make all the kids show off their talents which is usually musical talents. then after the kids leave to go hang out somewhere else in the house. the parents start singing like traditional armenian songs together or just 1 of them does and they all listen. so basically, parents use their kid’s birthday as an excuse to throw a party. they have it for older people too but the big ones are usually just the kid ones, the big parties. the ones for the older people are just like close family or immediate family i should say which still ends up to be pretty big. and like all the families bring food so we have alllooooot of food and usually  you don’t throw yourself a birthday party.100% of the time everyone else throws it for you, so whether you like it or not, you’re going to have a birthday party. “ohh, it’s osheen’s birthday today, let’s make dinner and go to their house.” all the celebrations are basically the same: christmas, easter, birthdays, new years. the only thing changing is what we have for dinner and of course like prayers and whatnot. we have a lot of traditional food and i guess we try to have as much a variety as we can at the table. usually the room where the dinner is served (the dining room) isn’t even the room we eat in. it’s just all the food is in the dining room. you go, get a plate, serve yourself then everyone goes back to the other room and “chills.”

Osheen told me this story about how he celebrates birthdays and holidays over AOL instant messenger one night when he could not sleep. He says that this tradition started in Armenia and Iran a long time ago because his parents lived in Iran. His parents brought over the tradition and kept it going even though they were in the United States. He is certain that most Armenian families celebrate birthdays like this. He has been a part of this tradition ever since he was born. After he experiences it a few times for either his birthday or other peoples’ birthdays, he realizes that they are always the same and knows what to expect. He also says that it is like the movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, where everyone shows up to celebrate an occasion.

It is obvious to see that the Armenian culture is very festive and it always includes a lot of people because the size of families is quite large. It seems to me that they have a very close bond with all of their friends and family because they spend a lot of time with each other. They do not leave anyone out and everyone feels comfortable going into each others’ homes unannounced. Food also seems like a main aspect of Armenian culture. According to Osheen, there is always a lot of food, meaning that they enjoy cooking and eating. It heavily emphasizes the role of women in the household as they are usually the ones preparing the dishes. Not only do birthdays define a national culture, it also defines gender roles within Armenian families. Moreover, Armenian parents are very proud of their children as shown through their requests for their children to show off their talents. The parents want to show their friends how accomplished their children are.