Can You Become a Typical Armenian?

Hi everybody! I’ve spent and excellent week since my  sister, who permanently lives in Germany came to visit us. So I want to share some ideas that we came up with, when we were discussing Armenians and what is it like to be Armenian. We asked ourselves, what makes us Armenian? Really, we seem so much different than other people in the world, or at least we think so. What makes us different? There are certain things that are typically Armenian. So, me and my sister tried to point out three main characters, without which you can’t be Armenian. For the first point we both came up with the same idea



nos_gorbinkoj_2Armenians try to find Armenians everywhere. For example when they finish watching some movie, in the end they try to find Armenians in the full cast and crew. Only Armenians can sit and watch the whole cast and try to find some specific Armenian names, or surnames. That’s not a joke. Many Armenians, if not most of them do this. It gives them an extraordinary sense of pride. Other very funny, but common “Armenian search tool” is nose 🙂 Yes, if someone is hook nosed, he is “suspected” of being Armenian, or at least having some Armenian roots.



Second comes hospitality. It  doesn’t matter where are you from, when have you entered their house, in what conditions do they live. Armenians are very hospitable anywhere and anytime. And the most important part of their hospitality is regale. Even if you’re not hungry, even if you hurry up you must sit at the table and taste whatever you’re served, otherwise you might be offending the host. And no matter how much you eat,  you’ll be constantly reminded to help yourself.



Third thing is one of the prior parts of Armenian character. It is conservativeness. Armenians are very traditional and conservative. Throughout their history Armenians have spread all around the globe and there is no country that there are no 3Armenians. There are almost 11 million Armenians in the world, but only 3 million live in their motherland, others are spread around the world. And even in these conditions, being away from homeland and living for decades abroad, Armenians still live with their own lifestyle, as they would have lived in Armenia. They try to bring their children up specifically among Armenian community. They may normally hang out with others, but they mostly marry only Armenians.

So dear reader these are the main characteristic points for Armenians. Check out if you’re true Armenian, or maybe you have big chance to become one 😀

Armenian Old New Year

Did you know that the Old New Year is still a traditional holiday celebrated on 14th of January according to Julian Calendar.

The celebration starts on 13th January at 12:00. Even though it’s become an informal holiday, armenians still gather and enjoy the beginning of a Year, this year the Republic Square will host annual concert despite the cold weather.

People of Armenia  look forward the magic moments and realizations of dreams for the coming  New Year.


Armenians have been celebrating 3 New Year Holidays : Kaghand, Navasard, New Year.

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Ancient Armenians  were celebrating New Year on 21st of March : the vernal equinox day and also the birthday of the mythical God Vahangn, in whom believed the pagan Armenians about 10 thousand years ago? The hero of the Holiday /Armenian Santa was Kaghand Papy/ Kagand Grandpa.  The typical food for Kaghand consists of beans, lentils, dry fruit, nuts. The most important from the eatables is “Tary hats” / Year Bread. “Big mamas” of the family put coin inside the bread and the one who get it, according to the tradition, get a lot of fortune for the upcoming year.




Navsard, which was celebrated in 1th of November is the day when Forefather Hayk won Titanian Bel. This celebration was accompanied by traditional songs and dances, traditional food and collective events.


And after the 18th century Calendar reform made by Simeon Yerevantsy . Armenians started celebrate The New Year on the 1st of January. many traditions of Kaghand and Navasard are maintained nowadays, some of them are modernized  and changed.

After the Soviet Union New Year holiday got some soviet traditions , changed some traditional staff and become quite original.

Almost all the Armenians do a lot of preparations for it. Some people /especially armenian women/ are busy on cooking, cleaning, decorations, new dresses, some people / esp. men/ busy on buying New Year meals ingredients /meat, dry fruit, drinks/ , some of us make a lists of relatives to visit and many young people just get together and spend good time 😉


Everybody likes New Years’s dishes, everybody enjoy cooking and testing it wherever they go. Almost all Armenians have dolma, khorovats/ barbeque, qyufta, ishly qyufta  or any other interesting traditional dish with meat, dry fruit and different types of nuts, fruit and traditional sweets like gata, choreg, pakhlava on their festive table.

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And it’s important to have drinks on the table to make good tosts and wishes for the coming year.

Usually The President congratulate everybody for the upcoming year on TV, then the same does the Catholicos on armenian TV and the celebration of Amanor / Nor Tari (New Year) considered to be officially opened.


There is some magic in all this activity, enjoy the beginning of the New Year, New Hope and New Beginnings. Spend it with those whom you love and who love you and of course visit Armenia. Believe me you’ll enjoy armenian holidays !


Cathedral of Saint Gregory the Illuminator

Cathedral of Saint Gregory the Illuminator 1997 – 2001, Yerevan, Armenia. Saint Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral (Armenian: Սուրբ Գրիգոր Լուսաւորիչ Եկեղեցի, Surb Grigor Lusavorich Yekeghetsi) is the largest Armenian church in the world and is located in the Kentron District of Yerevan in Armenia. It is adjacent to the General Andranik metro station. It is also considered to be one of the largest religious buildings along with Sameba Cathedral in the South Caucasus. The Cathedral is the symbol of the 1700th anniversary of the proclamation of Christianity as a State Religion in Armenia and house for relics of Saint Gregory the Illuminator (Surb Grigor). The Holy Remains of St. Gregory were brought from Naples, Italy. Shortly after the consecration of the Cathedral Pope John Paul II paid a visit to the Cathedral. The cathedral has been constructed by the initiative of catholicos Vazgen I. The construction started on April 7, 1997 with a ground blessing service conducted by catholicos Karekin I. The church complex was designed by the architect Stepan Kurkchyan and the construction was completed in 2001. The huge Cathedral is a complex consisting of three churches: the Cathedral (Main Church) with 1700 seats and the Chapels of St. Tiridat (Tiridates) III the King and of St. Ashkhen the Queen (both with 150 seats). These two royal figures were the crucial helpers of St. Gregory in converting Armenia to Christianity. The belfry and the court are located at the entrance of the Cathedral. The halls for both the receptions and church-related activities are provided on the lower floor of the Main Church. The Main Church of the complex was built by the donation of AGBU founder Alek Manoukian, along with his wife Mary, and their son and daughter Richard and Louise Simon-Manoukian. On the other hand, the construction of the two chapels of the complex was completed by the donation of Nazar and Artemis Nazarian and Kevork and Linda Kevorkian, while the belfry erected by the donation of Eduardo Eurnekian.


Hosting Thor Heyerdahl Junior

While the whole last week I spent on passing mid-trem exams, I was generally thinking what interesting did I experience this week, about what should I tell my readers. And then, here you come, I have experienced something, that really was amazing. I met a person whom I’d never thought I could meet. I mean obviously I have read and heard a lot about him and his family, but hearing those stories from him was very appealing. That person is Thor Heyerdahl Junior. He visited Armenia on his famous traveler father’s  100th anniversary. As he himself claims, that it’s a great experience to visit one of the most ancient countries in the world on 100th anniversary of his father.



Those who don’t know who is Thor Heyerdahl, let’s just have a quick review on his biography. Thor Heyerdahl Senior  is a Norwegian adventurer and archaeologist, who started a journey around the globe on a raft Kon-Tiki in 1947 and later wrote an international bestseller on his adventures. And not only him, but his wife and son also became part of his adventures, they have gone through all of that together. And today we hosted  his son Thor Heyerdahl Junior, his wife Grethe Heyerdahl and marketing manager Halfdan Tangen Junior from The Kon-Tiki Museum in our University after Valery Brusov. During the seminar Mr. Heyerdahl told us the story of his family and adventures that they had. Obviously I’d like to share it with you my dears.

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Famous raft Kon-Tiki

So, let’s start from the beginning, Thor Heyerdahl Senior was born in 1914 in Norway. He studied zoology at Oslo University. As his son claims, the adventurer spirit he has got from his mother’s upbringing, because instead of reading fairy tales for him, his mom read Darwin and evolution. In 1936 he left for the island Fatu Hiva in the Pacific, with his first wife. He spent a couple of years there studying the indigenous plants and animals. During the 2nd World War he served in Norwegian Military.  Mr. Thor Heyerdahl Junior recalls. “When my father  was leaving for the war, my mother told me, that this may be the last time I see my dad. We were not sure, will he come back, or not. But fortunately dad survived”.  After coming back from war, Heyerdahl built raft Kon-Tiki and together with his crew of five started his journey across the Pacific Ocean from South America to the Polynesian islands. They spent 101 day at sea, under the open sky. During this voyage they happened to face every kind of danger that man could come across in the sea. Later he wrote the book Kon-Tiki about his adventures, which became the bestseller of its time. And then the documentary based on the same journey won an Academy Award in 1951. By the way this film is the only Norwegian Oscar winning film.


Thor Heyerdahl Jr recalling his famous father

The next one was archaeological expedition in Galapagos islands in 1953 and the book The Secret of Easter Island, written in 1958 was based on this trip.  Then followed trips and explorations in Morocco, Bahamas, Egypt, Tucume Pyramid, Spanish island of Tenerife, in the Canary Islands, southern Russia and many other places.


HalfdanTangen Jr tells about Mr. Heyerdahl’s adventures

So I really feel lucky enough to hear much more of those adventures and stories from the first hand. Our students also were curious about our guests’ impression of Armenia during four days spent here. Mr. Heyerdahl Jr. told us that had many positive impressions, he did like the fact that Armenia is very ancient country and it’s difficult to describe what you feel here. In the end he told us “When I’m back in Norway, I’m going to be the ambassador of Armenia there.”


ArMania members with Thor Heyerdahl Jr and HalfdanTangen Jr


Besides he said that they are thinking about some projects in Armenia, which I think is going to be just as much amazing, many students even claimed the participation in possible projects. So obviously everybody is looking forward to see our dear guests in Armenia again and we hope that further cooperation will be very prosperous.

Armenian Paper (Papier D’Armenie)

Have you even heard that there is Armenian paper? Well, this is not just an ordinary paper. Keep on reading to find out what Armenian paper is and how it is connected with the French culture 🙂

Papier d’Arménie, a type of Armenian paper produced in France, is a room deodorizing product sold as booklets of twelve sheets of paper each cut into three pieces, which are coated with benzoin resin, the dried sap of styrax trees. Originally in the 16th century these were known as medicinal papers and burned to fumigate things only to slowly fall out of fashion in most areas of Europe. One area that did keep the practice alive was Armenia which used benzoin resin as the bases for theirs. If you’ve never sniffed benzoin, it’s somewhere between vanilla, balsam and, to me, rich amber. Gorgeous, especially during colder times.


Stripes of ‘Papier d’Arménie’.


At the end of the 19th century, Auguste Ponsot discovered that Armenian households would burn Styrax as a fragrance and disinfectant. M. Ponsot adopted this habit with the help of the pharmacist Henri Rivier and the recipe created by the celebrated French perfumer of Armenian origin Francis Kurkdjian, who recreated the recipe going from village to village in Armenia and France, whereby benzoin resin was dissolved in alcohol, then infused onto a blotting paper support. The “alchemy” inherent in Papier d’Arménie became a huge success with the emerging importance of hygiene from 1888–1889, and has been steadily produced in Montrouge, France since 1885. Armenian paper is an integral part of French culture, and has been mentioned in works by greats such as singer-songwriter Serge Gainsbourg (in the lyrics to “Les Petits Papiers”), and the writers Georges Perec and Robert Sabatier (in his novel “Les allumettes suédoises” published in English as “The Safety Matches”).


This is how Papier d’Arménie is used. Put the paper on a special place and burn it.

A legend of 3 sisters /churches !

There is a legend about  3 sisters lived in Ashtarak. and they all  felt in love with the prince Sargis. There is not an exact data about the prince, but according to some researchers he might belong to Vaspurakan Royal Family.

Among all the other man they 3 have chosen the prince, but only one of them could become his wife. What a sad and unusual story. You might think that it was not a big deal, though  as the legend says their love brought to very tragic circumstances for all 3. the elder two sisters decided to end their life that hinder their sister’s happiness.   And they threw themselves into the Ashtarak gorge. One was wearing apricot color dress and the other wearing a red dress .  They have just excluded their candidature by suicide.

When the other sister found out, she  also threw herself  into the gorge.  She was wearing a  white dress.

Sargis then became a hermit.

After that three small churches appeared at the edge of the gorge, named after the sisters’ dress colours: the Karmravor Church (“Reddish” ) , Spitakavor (“Whitish”),  Tsiranavor ( “Apricotish “).

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The legend is a legend, but the churches exist nowadays, they are a product of armenian architecture and it is good to have a look at these small mysterious churches.

According to historical data Karmravor   was constructed around the 7th century, dedicated to the Holy Mother of God,  Tsiranavor    was  built between the 13th and 14th centuries and  Spitakavor  was built between the 5th and 6th centuries.

My visit to Armenia 2014: Big Event on the 1st Day!!!

I talked about that I was heading to Armenia in my last blog post. Actually, on the first day of my arrival this time, I had a huge event planned.

After I arrived in Yerevan at 1:30am, I went to my wife’s parents’ house straight away to take a rest in order to prepare my busy day on the first day there.

Due to the time gap between Japan and Armenia (5 hours), I woke up very early on that day (at 5:30 am!!!). I tried to go to bed again but couldn’t so that I gave up and started watching youtube, killing time by reading all news feed on my facebook and did a little bit research on banks in Armenia.

After almost 4 hour passed since then, my brother in law and the sister woke up and then I had Armenian breakfast (actually, the main dish was fried eggs and Armenia bread so it was nothing really particular to mention as Armenian). Since I still had time until the big even on that day, I asked them to take out for somewhere so that we decided to go to the center of Yerevan by car for taking a walk there.



The center of Yerevan was not really changed since I had visited there in this March. Maybe a couple of things to mention were that the number of people walking on the street was less than last time because October was not really a season for many tourists to visit and the Northern Avenue, the main street to reach Opera House from Abovyan Street was under construction in many parts also because it was off season for travel. But actually at the same time, it may be a very good time to explore Yerevan at your own pace since there are lots of spaces on the street as well as no place is crowded.

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Then, at 2am, I caught up with my friends to discuss several things and then went to the big event.

The event was… WEDDING PARTY!!!

Have you ever experienced wedding party in Armenian style??? Well, there are many different styles in different countries but probably Armenian wedding is very unique in some respects.

We went to a church nearby the international airport first for the couple to be baptized. The ceremony continued for approximately 15-20 minutes, joined by some priests there. The couple under Armenian style were required to wear crowns during the ceremony. Then, they touched each other on their forehead for some time. It was very beautiful moment. (Unfortunately, the cameramen stood in front of them and we could not really see the faces of the couple always). Then, after the ceremony inside the church, the audience moved outside waiting for the couple by grabbing flowers of rose.


Then, after 15 minutes, finally the couple came out of the church as the audience threw the roses to them celebrating the newly married couple. Probably, until this part, the wedding in Armenian style is not so different from weddings in other styles.

Probably, the most particular part is the wedding reception.

So, after that, we went to the reception and I was overwhelmed by seeing the volume of dishes on the table and of course a lot of “Mis” (Meat)!!! – Armenians love meat and I love meat. On the table, Armenian cognac, wine and vodka were prepared in many bottles too to get Armenians who are very strong at alcohol drunk.


There were approximately 400-500 people (?) invited to the party. I was sitting to my friends and also other random people who are friends of the groom but I did not know. These people turned to be quite friendly and got somehow so happy that I am Japanese guy attending the party after they found out me Japanese.

At first, the words from the relatives and some people were given to the couple and we started eating while some music were played. Maybe after 40 minutes or so, they started dancing with other people. Well, it was very fun to see other people dancing and actually they were enjoying a lot. But it was also very nervous moment for me because I do not like dancing myself… Yes, I was asked by different people to join the dance but I refused them all totally and completely. One guy was seeing that and came to sit next to me saying “if you do not dance, you must drink more”. So, actually I ended up drinking more and more alcohol eventually although a friend of mine helped me by taking the guy somewhere for dancing.


It was very enjoyable time for me and I participated in a wedding party in Armenian style for the first time. If you have any chance to come to Armenia, I recommend you to attend a wedding party if there is a chance. See some photos from the wedding party.

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Caravan inside the needle

      A caravan of camels made of precious stones, placed in the eye of a sewing needle by Edward Ter Ghazarian the founder of miniature art.] The world renowned Armenian micro miniaturist Edward Ghazaryan is considered the founder of the unique art of micro miniature. In the 1950s the European press was abuzz about an Armenian man who claimed to create tiny works of art smaller than the eye of a needle. One German newspaper reader had his doubts and sent a letter of disbelief to the artist. Weeks later came the reply, hand-written on a human hair. Edward Ghazaryan has exposed his first invisible by the naked eye micro miniature works in Yerevan more than half a century ago. He created about 600 of such miniatures and granted many as tokens of friendship to prominent figures of foreign countries like Honaker, Queen of England Elizabeth II, Chrushev, Stalin, Janise Khaddar, Ho Shi Min, Rockefeller and many others.

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    His exhibitions have been shown around the world. In 1977 Eduard Kazaryan showed his work in Armenian pavilion of Soviet exhibition in Los-Angeles (USA). American visitors of exhibition called his works “the 8th world wonder”(Los Angeles Times Mon., Nov.21, 1977). As if this wasn’t enough, Edward also managed to create asynchronously moving micro sculptures that to date (over 30 years) have not been replicated. He demonstrated this for the first time in Moscow where a set of figures where performing a play inside a human hair. 


    Edward is a man of many phenomenal talents. Born in Yerevan he has received higher musical education and for many years was one of the leading musicians of the Philharmonic orchestra of Armenia. In addition to his micro-art and musical talents, Edward is an eminent violinist innovator, talented musical sculptor and an excellent caricaturist. His violins are owned by many prominent musicians. Each aspect of his life separately may serve as a biography of an outstanding artist, musician, doctor, ophthalmologist, cardiologist and a scientist. These are the many sides of Edward Ghazarian. The Camel Caravan inside the needle by Edward Ghazarian has been sold for €460000 at an auction in Cannes, France. 


Armenian Rock-Art (petroglyphs)

if you are looking for a new fascinating country to visit which is full of surprises be sure that Armenia will prove to be more than a wise choice. Armenia can offer more than you can imagine, rich history, wonderful modern and antique art and what not?

As I have already mentioned there is much to see here, and so much more to write about, I guess you can imagine what  a difficult choice of topic I make every time I write.

Today I want to introduce you to the Armenian Rock Art the scientific term for which is Petroglyphs. There are more than 100 countries around the world where scientists have found petroglyphs, that is images carved into rocks using stone tools. The prehistoric man depicted all kinds of different images in the rock which tell us a lot about people 4000 years ago, their life, myths, origins, stories of past societies, beliefs and a lot more..

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There are numerous Rock-Art sites in Armenia all set high in the mountains. Five large Rock-Art areas are well known and nearly 20 thousand carved rock-pieces have been discovered so far. Almost all aspects of human life are depicted in those petroglyphs, ranging from human activities like dancing, hunting and fighting to celestial bodies such as  the Sun, the Moon, the stars, the Milky Way and so on. The  Rock Art found in Armenia is our unique cultural and historic heritage. There are many scientist who study and classify Armenian petroglyphs, however there are many obstacles standing on the way of the scientists such as the dating of ancient rock carvings. Despite the difficulties much has been done and studied in the field and the research is in progress. If you are interested in the art of the prehistoric man and want to experience something unknown and fresh visit the Armenian Rock Art sites and don’t forget your camera!



Armenian Fire Red or Vordan Karmir

Every Tuesday one though is hovering in my head, what should I write about my beautiful rocky land Armenia that you do not know yet. However the idea for my today’s post was in my mind since yesterday evening when I was listening to one of my favorite Armenian rock bands Vordan Karmir, the name of the band is reference to the Amrenian dye Vordan Karmir the recipe of which has been lost for quite some time. So let’s find out some interesting facts about Vordan Karmir (Carmine) the fantastic Armenian paint which was prepared and  used since  the most ancient times.

  1. Did you know that this fascinating purely natural rich red color is made of small red bugs called Vordan Karmir?59830372-300x199

This unique bug can be found only in Ararat valley, and for observing this rare creature in its natural habitat one needs to travel to the enchanting Ararat valley on an early Autumn morning as the bugs stay on the surface of the earth only 40 days during the year at the beginning of autumn.

The recipe of Carmine has been lost during the last century , however scholars in Matenadaran are currently working on the recovery of the old recipe without significant success so far. Recovering the recipe of the old dye is important not only for scholarly reasons but also to able to restourate ancient Armenian manuscripts, which are illustrated by many beautiful miniatures where the domineering color is the fire red, received from the vordan Karmir bug.


Now that we spoke about the so Armenian dye vordan Karmir, you already know where the band Vordan Karmir took its name from. Founded in 2005 the band has received positive acclaim among folk rock lovers. The so charming band members say that they are also dyestuff like the so famous ancient Armenian Carmine, but unlike the dye they do not color carpets and manuscripts they color music and lyrics creating very Armenian and powerful rock. They are the new dyestuff, the new fire red in the Armenian music industry!