Armenian Women in Transmitting The Traditions and Legacies to Future Generations

In Armenian Women in Transmitting The Traditions and Legacies to Future Generations, I first discuss the history of Armenia, going all the way back to the Bible times when they were referred to in the Old Testament as “Hittites”. This paper is mainly about how the customs and legacies are passed down to the next generation. Some customs mentioned are: raise the daughter to be a good housekeeper and cook; and also the wedding customs. This paper is good for anyone studying Armenian culture and who would like to get to know an Armenian.

Traditions and cultural observances are key components to a group of people retaining their nationality. In Armenia, traditions and legacies are of the utmost importance.

To be called an “Armenian” is just a cultural term. Other alternative names would be: Hayasdan/Hayastan; Haygagan/Haykakan; and also Haigagan; Haikakan.

Historical Armenia is the Armenian Plateau; the 1918-20 US State Department’s map of Armenia, and the Republic of Armenia. The idea of Armenian culture is not only the culture itself but also the Armenian people, most of which lives in the diaspora, meaning outside the boundaries of Armenia.

In order to understand the customs of Armenia today and also to get a feel of what the old Armenia was is crucial to understanding how and why Armenians, especially women, keep their customs.

Armenia can be traced back to the Old Testament times. The area in Turkey that is referred to in the first book of the Bible, or Genesis, is Ararat. It is believed that here on Mount Ararat is where Noah’s ark is stationed.

Just from all of what we have seen so far we realize that since Noah’s flood occurred over 4,500 years ago and that the Hittites were mentioned in the Old Testament of the Holy Bible, then one can assume that although has changed some, it is very likely that the people of Armenia still like to keep their traditions and pass old as well as new ways down to their children.

Ever since the Pre-Roman period, Armenia has been associated with mountainous plateaus. To the east of these plateaus is Iran, on the west is Turkey; and to the north, the Trans- Caucasian Plains. The plateau contains complex mountain ranges, valleys, rivers, lakes and volcanic peaks. Also, the Middle East receives most of their water from Armenia’s many water reservoirs. The two large rivers mentioned in Genesis, where the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers flow is also where the first two human beings lived, also known as the “Garden of Eden”. When the Garden of Eden was inexistence, it was situated at a high elevation in the mountains.

During the twentieth century things improved for the Armenians. Although under Communist rule since 1920, by 1991, with the fall of Communism, Armenia finally received her independence. On September 21, 1991, the Republic of Armenia became a sovereign state.

Now that we have an idea of how Armenia became a state and its ancient Biblical roots we can see how important Armenian women are to the society and how their roles, regarding traditions and legacy have been passed down from generation to generation.

Both sexes are divided within a household. The house is the woman’s domain. The mature ladies of the house, the mother-in-law/grandmother-in-law are the cooks and housekeep- ers. Although both men and women work outside the home it is still the women of the home’s responsibilty to cook the meals and do the domestic chores.

All sectors of the economy are open to both men and women. However, of the fifty- seven banks that exist in Armenia, only five are operated and managed by women. Even though the unemployment rate is 63.9 percent, women still highly participate in the labor force.

The government does have a law that is intended to pay women “equal pay for work of equal value”. More women are working in lower-wage occupations than their male counter- parts. This means that a woman’s income is only two-third’s of a man’s salary.

During the first Republic of Armenia (1918-20), in regards to voting and election rights, women were on the same solid footing as men. Four parliamentarians were women and one woman, Diana Apgar, was appointed the Ambassador to Japan.

After 1920, when the Soviets took control of Armenia, women found it harder to find jobs where they could be in positions of power and decision making. Even seventy-one years later, after Armenia gained her independence, women won only nine constituencies out of 240, or 3.6 percent. Today, none of the permanent seats are held by women.

Another extremely important cultural issue in Armenia is how the nation views the role of women in marriage, family and kinship.

Armenians are monogamous. Sometimes marriages are arranged. Intermarriage with family is not accepted in Armenia. The ideal situation would be if a couple who were not related would marry. Most newlyweds end up living with the groom’s family because of the housing shortage. The preference, naturally, is for a newlywed couple to live on their own.

For a man and a woman to marry at least one partner must be Christian Orthodox. Second, the couple is required to attend pre-wedding mentoring held in the church.

Also, marriages occur inside the church. No outside weddings are permitted.

The bride must wear a very conservative wedding gown. She is not to show any cleavage or be wearing a tight dress.

Finally, unless the couple chips in for an extra fee, there are no “kiss the bride” moments. The final part of the wedding custom is when the groom and bride are proclamed “King and Queen” of their households.

As far as social settings are concerned, men rated higher on Armenian identity than did women. Women were not as interested in doing what they loved to do, such as working or im- proving Armenian society.

Religion is another area of interest to Armenians. There are one 112 million Armenians around the world as well as their own nation-state in the Caucasus. Over ninety-percent of Armenia is Christian.

Before Christianity, in the Old Testament times, the Hittites served the one living God: YAHWEH, or Jehovah. This aspect of Armenian life is very important to the people.

Also, regarding the marriage etiquette, and woman’s etiquette the first year that she is married and also the Armenian’s Christian heritage are issues that women of Armenia can pass down to their children and future generations could remember the traditions of their parents and grandparents, thereby assuring that the culture, tradition and legacy can keep going strong.

Without a doubt, married life and the family are traditions, amongst many others, that can be passed down to future generations by women. In many cases, if the women of the house begin teaching their children when they are just months old or a little older about Christianity and raise them up in a Christian home, it is likely that the child/children will grow up to become a Christian. Also, all of the other cultural customs, such as housekeeping, etc., can be taught by the women of the house. Most Armenian women teach their toddlers how to be a real Armenian boy or girl, and it goes without saying that the children will grow up to become good Armenian citizens.

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