This week I have had several exciting cultural exchanges so I thought I'd take the time to share them with the internet world (or the few people that read this blog). It's the cultural experiences here that I'll remember forever and that make the challenging days so much better.
Trndez: Trndez is an old Pagan holiday. Armenians light fires in their yards to welcome the coming of Spring. It also symbolizes luck for newlyweds, and hopes for childbearing. It is custom to jump over the fire with family and friends for good luck. There is also a traditional dish eaten on this day of popcorn and wheat. Trndez which means toward a meeting with the Lord, is also 40 days after the Armenian Christmas and can now be justified to have some Christian meaning as well. I celebrated this holiday with the Sevan Youth Club.
Saint Sarkis Day: This holiday is all about making predictions of marriage, something I notice Armenians doing every day of the year. Single girls eat a salty treat, aghablit, and go to bed thirsty. They hope to dream a vision of their future husband bringing them water in their sleep. My counterpart gave me a aghablit to eat but unfortunately there was no man in my dreams last night...is that a sign? They also make a porridge dish, khashil, in which girls take a bite and then leave it on the roof at night. If it is gone in the morning, perhaps a bird took it to the house of an eligible young man for you.
Valentine's Day: This western holiday is starting to gain popularity in Armenia, although frowned upon by the church for it's root in business, not religion. I celebrated this day by talking about love to my English classes and telling them how we celebrate this day in the U.S. Then we made Valentine's which were pretty hilarious. How come most 7th grade boys cannot say a thing to me in English (after studying since the 3rd grade) but they know sayings like: "I need you, I want to kiss you, etc." I think that's an indicator of some sort..
I also baked cookies for my co-workers, neighbors, and well, mostly myself. In Armenian culture, it is seen as rude to give back a plate empty. So when my neighbors returned my plate, I was given sweet rolls. How sweet!