Monday, February 22, 2010

Harsaneak Bells

I know it has been quite some time since I’ve written a post so to all my avid readers I’m sorry and I’ll try to do better. Winter has come and gone and come back again. Today I looked out the window and saw snow coming down hard, it was completely unexpected, but while the last few days had been warm I didn’t really think that old man winter had left me quite yet.
Last week I went to my first Armenian wedding. For some reason February seems to be the month of choice for weddings here and it has also been the coldest month so far, but I guess the brides don’t mind freezing their shoulders. They also tend to get married on weekdays here, which was the case with the wedding I attended. Last Thursday I arrived around eleven o’clock to the groom’s house where we sat around for a few hours before loading up and heading to the bride’s house where there was a table of food set up for the bride’s family and the grooms family. The bride came out escorted by her one brides maid and both families on either side of the table made the formal exchange while the guests looked on. Then it was on to the church for about a thirty-minute service. After that we went back to the grooms house where this time the bride and groom sat at a table and ate while everybody watched. And I forgot to mention that at each stop family members from each side dance around with the traditional wedding gifts in their hands, such as fruit, gata- a type of cake, candies, and the grooms side carries some of the brides wedding day cloths. For example, I noticed one lady dancing with a pair of panty hose, which I thought was funny since it seems to me like a weird thing to dance around with at a formal event. And I also forgot to say that the whole family and close friends arrive to the house of the side that they know (bride/groom) before any of the ceremony starts, so everybody watches as the groom gets dressed or at the brides house they watch her get dressed. Then the wedding party follows a guy who carries a large skewer with apples on it as he dances around. So after we got back to the grooms house a fire was built and all the guests jumped over it which no one I talked to could explain why they do this just that its tradition. Finally six hours in we headed to the reception for a traditional horovats (barbeque). The air quickly filled with cigarette smoke and the party began with lots of toasts, dancing and when the meal was served more dancing but this time with plates in hand. Finally, at ten o’clock…eleven hours later…we headed home. It was a good cultural experience, one that I was excited about, but it was long, so I think I’ve done the wedding thing and won’t jump quite so quickly at an invite next time, but we’ll see.
In other news I now teach four lessons a week. My Armenian has gotten to the point where I can take a proactive role in the classroom, and I seem to have become the it person in my community with lots of dinner invitations and people coming up to me on the street. I’ve also been out and about handing out applications for the next group of Peace Corps volunteers who arrive in May. Hopefully there will be a few more volunteers around this area by August. Well, that’s all for now, but I’ll do better writing more regularly, so keep checking and get your friends to read as well!--Michael

Tuesday, February 16, 2010