I never thought all that much about my Armenian heritage. I figured that I would visit the country with my family and a few of my friends to see what the country was like. I never imagined how amazing the country was.
It was fascinating to see all of the many things that Armenia has to offer. We participated in a number of traditional activities while in Armenia and saw many of the most important sites in the country.
We traveled to many of the more historic sites around Armenia. We were particularly impressed by the Monastery of Geghard. This classic religious site was partially carved out of a nearby mountain to create a stronger look. This offered a fascinating look at the Armenian traditions that were followed within the country as its Christian faith grew.
While in Armenia, we also went to some of the cities around the country including Yerevan, the capital. It is amazing how even a city as large as this continues to have a number of important classic structures all around the place. Many classic churches can still be found around the place as symbols of the country and its heritage.
One interesting thing that we experienced while in Armenia was the many forms of music that were being performed throughout the country. Armenia has a classic music history that focuses heavily on local folk music. Much of the folk influence in Armenia can be traced back to what the residents experienced and were taught while the country was under Soviet rule. The interesting part of the music here is that it is heavily inspired by scale patterns that are practically endless in terms of how the notes are properly organized.
Dancing was especially prominent around the country. Dancing is often used around the country to express the country’s history and to tell the stories of the past. The dances that people have often participated in are rather appealing in terms of how they are organized.
The foods that were served around Armenia were especially intriguing. I learned that a typical Armenian diet focuses heavily on the crops and animals raised around the country.
Much of what they do in Armenia for their foods involve slow-cooking them focusing on various greens. The mixtures of meats and vegetables in the country are rather intriguing.
They also have stuffed dishes that are served on various special occasions. These dishes include cuts of meat and vegetables that are stuffed with rice or bulgur and even mixed with various dried seasonings and some ground meats. These are often added to create some enjoyable foods that are often designed to be rich and impressive. I admit that it would be a challenge for me to manage my weight loss efforts when eating some of the assorted foods here.
The most impactful moment for me came when we visited the Tsitsernakaberd, a memorial complex dedicated to the victims of the Armenian Genocide of 1915. The genocide was led by the Ottoman and Russian Empires as more than a million Armenians were murdered in an attempt to cleanse the population of the Ottoman Empire, which is known today as Turkey. This is the most tragic event in Armenian history and it continues to impact Armenian culture as the country is still at odds with Turkey, what with the Turkish government refusing to refer to it as an act of genocide.
While at the memorial, we reflected upon the events that took place then and considered the heartbreak of people being killed solely for who they were. It made me put my life into perspective.
I knew that my family had a history of various forms of cancer, what with two relatives dying from leukemia and two others dying from breast cancer. While at the memorial, I realized that I should be lucky. While my relatives had attempted to use various treatments to control their cancers, the people of Armenia did not have a choice back then. It makes me and the modern Armenian population proud of how the country has evolved since then.
It was amazing to be out here in Armenia to see what my ancestors were truly like. The country is sweeping, beautiful, fascinating and even heartbreaking but overall, it has made me appreciate my background.
The Perks Of Being Armenian
We live in a hectic, ever-changing world. Technology has become an integral part of our lives and we are unable to live without it. Thanks to technology we’re able to communicate with people from all over the world and thanks to technology all of us consume an incredibly large quantity of information, on a daily basis.
We connect with people from all over the world, share our stories, feelings and experiences and yet we feel alone and alienated. In short – we don’t feel home. I am Armenian and even though I’ve only been to Armenia once, I call it my home. I am Armenian and this is my story.
Us Armenians have such a rich culture it’s impossible to write it all in a short article like this one, but I’ll give my best to explain what us Armenians are like. When I went there with my family, I brought a long a couple of American friends and, needles to say, they were blown away.
I could talk all day long about our anecdotes and adventures in Armenia. To be honest, it’s quite easy to have an adventure in Armenia when people there are so open and friendly.
We are generous, kind people and we cultivate family values. Armenian families are large and incredibly close. We all have lots of cousins and we all take care of each other and help each other in every way we can.
Why Are We So Different Than The Rest Of The World?
You’re probably wondering by now, why is Armenia so different than the rest of the world? Although a legitimate question, it’s pretty hard to answer it because there are many subtle and not so subtle cultural differences than one would notice as soon as he came to Armenia.
As you probably know, Armenia used to be a Soviet republic and you can see traces of the USSR almost everywhere. Being one of the most densely populated countries in the region, Armenia’s economy wasn’t exactly booming, but even that has changed. We have, over the years, undergone a profound economical transformation and that has, in many ways, shifted the paradigm of our society and changed the way Armenian people think.
For example, if you turn on Armenian news you won’t see too much alarming, panicking stories like you would in the USA. We don’t panic, we’re used to having it bad, so we take it easy now. That’s just our culture. But then again, that’s one of those things (maybe the only thing) I don’t like about Armenia.
People need to be less laid back and more responsible if they want to keep their economy strong, but that’s a whole other topic.
What a lot of people are not familiar with is Armenian cuisine. Our food is absolutely amazing and so under-appreciated in the western world. Things like Harissa (sort of a porridge, made of meat and wheat) or Khash (typical working class meal of beef or lamb meat, traditionally eaten for breakfast) are a part of every Armenian’s diet. That’s just one of our traditions.
Speaking of diet, you won’t meet many Armenians complaining about not being able to lose weight, going on weight loss diets, spending countless hours in the gym or anything else – we are a hedonistic nation. We love food, we enjoy food and we are not ashamed of it!
Actually, if you asked an average Armenian what’s the best way to lose weight, the answer would probably be: “Dancing! Just dance to the music.” Yes, we are happy people and our music is also an integral part of our tradition. We have a rich, long musical tradition, we adore our folk songs, but we also love pop music and something called Rabiz (a mixture of pop and traditional Armenian folk music).
Another thing about Armenian people that not a lot of people know, but we are so proud of is our uplifting spirit. My American friends were amazed with this, especially after they met my grandma. Unfortunately, she has been diagnosed with breast cancer (she’s doing OK for now, in case you’re wondering), but when she meets someone new – that’s the first thing she jokes about! Seriously. I mean, in the western world you’d get so many weird looks and people would talk behind your back, thinking you’re crazy, but not in Armenia.
All I can say in the end is that I can’t wait to go again. I miss all of my Armenian friends and I miss my family so much. I remember, before I went to Armenia I was going through some difficult times, personally, but I came back a new man. That’s just what it felt like. It felt like home.