If you are reading this article, it means you have decided to spend one of the best periods of the year in Armenia. So, welcome!
New Year is a magical time when you can enjoy your holidays and take time away from the hustle and bustle of the busy and exhausting working days. Though New Year is celebrated in the majority of countries, the celebrations vary widely across different cultures. In Armenia this holiday has a specific importance for natives. Since the end of November each family is getting prepared for a great celebration. The cities and even villages have their festive decorations done. The capital city Yerevan and the second largest city Gyumri have the most beautiful lights and Christmas tree on all streets. The queen of the celebrations is the main Christmas tree in the Capital square which lights are switched on with special ceremony.
But this is just the beginning of the story. The most important is yet to come. Being in Armenia in New Year means to know everything about our traditions starting from the decoration of the table, house, ending with the welcoming of friends and acquaintances.
The cleaning up
Cleaning up the house is the first stage of getting prepared. In fact, we don’t throw away the furniture as the German people do, but try to save money for a new thing to buy. Try to knock at any door on the last days of December, you will see that all of them are cleaning and cooking, nothing else. By the way, the decoration of the Christmas tree is a special occasion as well. We buy new and modern ornaments each year to decorate both the house and the tree. Those who have gardens put extra tree and decoration to illuminate the location.
The table accessories
If the turkey is a traditional Christmas dish for Americans, the pork leg decorates our tables for New Year. Nevertheless, there can be found some original families who replace the leg with a turkey, fish or even crocodile, the pork doesn’t succumb. Meat snacks and salads come the next which variety makes us feel dizzy. If you want typically Armenian meat snack, try basturma. Mostly eastern pastry with honey syrup and nuts are put on the the table. Fruits, various nuts, chocolate candies, dried fruit, etc. are listed in the New Year menu. One of Armenian sweets, which is also called ”Armenian Snickers”, is sweet sujukh. It can become your favorite if you like walnuts. At the last but not least, our national UNESCO heritage; thin bread lavash. Do you think that we finished the New Year menu with lavash? You are wrong. The number of dishes varies from family to family depending on their social status. You may find even families where there are more than 5 main dishes besides the ones we mentioned. Actually, be ready to gain some kilos during your New Year holidays in Armenia.
13-day celebration of New Year
On December 31 at 12:00 we all should be ready to welcome the New Year. The table should be set and all family members should be at home to gather around the table and say Cheers when the clock strikes 12. What’s next? On January 1 the holiday routine begins. We visit our friends, relatives, acquaintances to wish them Happy New Year. During this trip from house to another we ”don’t have permission not to be hungry” as it will insult the host. And we eat over and over again. However, there is some priority for the visits. Close relatives come the first two days. On January 1 we should visit houses where somebody has just died.
All this New Year rush comes to its end on January 13 with the final celebration of Old New Year.
Hospitality is almost impossible to teach. It is all about people. Armenians are hospitable by origin, it is in our veins, and New Year is another chance to manifest that great feature.