Can you tell me a little about Armenia and Armenian History Month?
In 2022, the LA County Board of Supervisors proclaimed the month of April as “Armenian History Month” in Los Angeles County. Over 200,000 Armenians live within the Los Angeles County region, making LA County home to the greatest number of Armenians outside of Armenia itself!
In addition to enhancing the cultural diversity of the County of Los Angeles, the Armenian community has achieved many great academic accomplishments and made tremendous artistic and economic contributions to our region. Additionally, they have an active media and publishing base, approximately 20 schools and 40 churches, and a college throughout the County.
Armenians have survived persecution through the centuries. The 20th century was especially traumatic for the Armenia community, yet despite persecution, Armenians have survived, thrived, and continue to enrich the lives of those around them.
There is a lot to know about Armenians and their rich traditions and culture.
Armenians are often characterized as hospitable, friendly, and kind people who respect elders, have a gentle attitude to children, and have strong family values. They have many traditions that have formed over the centuries.
Although the life and habits of modern residents of Armenia are very different from the lifestyle of their ancestors, some ancient traditions are still honored, which helps to preserve the unique culture of this centuries-old nation.
Armenians invented these life-changing devices
The Automated Teller Machine (ATM). Before 1960s, people used to carry cash with them or withdraw money only by visiting bank branches. In 1960 Luther George Simjian invented an automated deposit machine (accepting coins, cash, and cheques) although it did not yet have a cash dispensing feature.
The Delta Faucet. Alex Manoogian developed the first successful washerless ball valve faucet, and he called it the Delta faucet after the shape of the internal cam, which resembled the fourth letter of the Greek alphabet: delta.
The Coffee Vending Machine. It was invented by the Rudd-Melikian company of Philadelphia in 1947, and the machine was named the Kwik Kafe.
The Ice Cream Cone Rolling Machine. This device, which made all our lives a little bit sweeter, was invented by Harry Tatosian in 1920.
The Hand-Held Hair Dryer. Armenian American inventor Gabriel Kazanjian was the first to patent a blow dryer in the United States in 1911. Around 1920, hair dryers began to go on the market in handheld form and has since changed our post-shower routines forever.
The Color Television. Hovhannes Abgari Adamian was an Armenian engineer and an author of more than 20 inventions. The first experimental color television was shown in London in 1928 based on Adamian’s tricolor principle, and he is recognized as one of the founders of color television.
And these are just a small sample of Armenians who are making a difference in our world. To learn more, check out 100 Armenians Who Changed the World.
Some mouth-watering Armenian cuisine includes:
Manti may have originated in Western Armenia, but it is much-loved across the country. It is delicious baked dumplings served in tomato sauce with a garlicy-infused yoghurt on the side.
Ghapama is a traditional and popular vegetarian dish, originating from southern Armenia. It is beloved throughout the country and has its very own song – “Hey Jan Ghapama”! It’s a butternut pumpkin, scooped out and stuffed with rice and dried fruits.
Dolma is considered the most cherished Armenian food! Dolma comes in two varieties: spiced meat and rice wrapped in fresh young grape leaves and the vegetarian “Summer Dolma,” which is wrapped in cabbage leaves. Another popular variation is to hollow out and stuff tomatoes, zucchini squash, eggplants, bell peppers with spicy meat and rice.
Lahmajun is Armenian Pizza and is the most popular Armenian food with a round bread base topped with minced beef, onions, garlic and peeled tomatoes. It is oven-baked and then served with fresh mint leaves and a squeeze of lemon.
Gata is often called the ‘jewel of the feast table’ or the queen of the Armenian dessert. A sweet egg-rich, bread-like cake, which varies in shape and size from region to region, is perfect with a cup of coffee or hot tea.
Harissa is a historical Armenian food that symbolizes the courage of Armenians during Ottoman rule. It is a filling dish made with two simple ingredients: peeled wheat and meat or chicken, which requires at least 4-5 hours of cooking.
Kchuch is a meat and vegetable stew that is a truly authentic Armenian dish prepared in a traditional Armenian clay pot known as kchuch, from where it gets its name. It typically consists of a combination of seasoned chunks of lamb meat, chopped vegetables along with garlic, spices, and herbs all drizzled with some robust Armenian wine. The ingredients are then added to a clay pot and slowly cooked in the oven.
The following people were Armenian
Kristine Agabaian, content creator and fashion enthusiast
Tania Sarin Araradian, content creator, co-founder of Styleguise, fashion stylist
Vahe Berberian, comedian, artist, and playwright
Lilit Caradanian, CEO of Elcie Cosmetics, entrepreneur
Cher (aka Cherilyn Sarkisian), singer, entertainer
Araksia Karapetyan, Emmy Award winning anchor
Sona Manukian, owner of Lucin Organics Skincare Products
Kev Orkian (aka Kevork Kapikyan), British-Armenian comedian
Anna Petrosian, founder of Dose of Colors and freelance makeup-artist
Andy Serkis, actor, director, and producer
Sirusho (aka Siranush Harutyunyan), singer-songwriter
Suzy Sogoyan, owner, IceLink
Serj Tankian, singer, poet, songwriter, visual artist, film producer, activist, and composer. he is most famous for being the lead singer and songwriter for System of a Down
And these are just a small sample of Armenians who are making a difference in our world. To learn more, check out 100 Armenians Who Changed the World
Here are some important Armenian holidays and traditions:
Christmas: Armenian Christmas or Soorp Dznound is celebrated annually on January 6. In Armenian tradition, this feast day commemorates not only the birth of Christ but also His baptism by John the Baptist. The latter is remembered through the “Blessing of Water” ceremony, which follows the Divine Liturgy on the same day.
National Army Day: Armenians celebrate January 28 as the day of the national army and the Armenian soldier. This official state holiday commemorates the formation of the armed forces of the newly independent Republic of Armenia in 1992. The day is marked by a military parade in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. On this day officials usually visit Yerablur Memorial to pay homage to the fallen Armenian soldiers who lost their life defending the homeland.
Saint Sarkis Day: While most of the Western world celebrates Valentine’s Day, Armenians have their own holiday, called St. Sarkis who is known as the warrior patron of love and youth. It’s celebrated 63 days before Easter on a Saturday between mid-January to mid-February. Starting on the eve of the holiday, seekers of love traditionally eat salty cookies (known as aghablit) at night believing that whoever gives them water to quench their thirst in their dream will become their future spouse.
Trndez (Purification): This is a joyful holiday in Armenia celebrated by young adults, newly-weds and all families in general on the evening of February 13. With pagan origins and known as the feast of purification, it is observed 40 days after the birth of Jesus Christ and carries the idea of coming forward to God with fire. Fun activities include making a bonfire, dancing around the fire, jumping over it, singing folklore songs, and eating Armenian special treats and sweets.
Book Giving Day: Armenia annually celebrates Book Giving Day on February 19. This holiday was first introduced in 2008 and is celebrated on the birthday of renowned poet Hovhannes Tumanyan. The purpose of the holiday is to instill a love for history, culture, and reading in the young generation. One of the festive traditions of that day is to gift an interesting book to a close person—something we all at LA County Library can appreciate!
Day of Maternity and Beauty: Although not a public holiday, the Day of Maternity and Beauty is widely celebrated throughout the country. The date of April 7 was chosen because on this date the Armenian Apostolic Church celebrates the feast of Annunciation of the Virgin Mary. It focuses on expressing respect, appreciation and gratitude towards mothers.
Holy Easter: Easter or Soorp Zadik, observed in March or April, is one of the most important holidays of the Armenian church, and it celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The celebration starts on Good Friday and lasts through the weekend. Eggs are colored in red symbolizing the blood Christ shed for the salvation of the world.
Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day: April 24 is an important and very emotional day for Armenians. Every person, be it in Armenia or elsewhere in the world, honors the memory of those 1.5 million victims of the genocide that happened at the beginning of the 20th century. Locals walk to the Tsitsernakaberd Genocide Memorial in Yerevan and lay flowers at the eternal flame.
Children’s Day: In the Republic of Armenia, June 1 is a festivity for children celebrated to honor children and the protection of their rights. The streets and public parks of Armenia are filled with festivities and entertainment for children and their parents including educational games, concerts, plays, exhibitions, and chess completions. Children and adults alike cover the pavement of the Liberty Square in Yerevan with colorful chalk drawings.
Vardavar Festival: One of the most beloved holidays is Vardavar, a festival where people splash and drench each other with water. Although now a Christian tradition, Vardavar’s history dates to pagan times and is associated with the deity Astghik who was the goddess of water, beauty, love, and fertility. When Armenia became the first country in the world to adopt Christianity as the state religion in 301 AD, Vardavar became part of the Armenian Apostolic Church as the Feast of the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ.
Independence Day: In 1991, a national referendum was held in Armenia on its withdrawal from the Soviet Union. On September 21, the third and independent Republic of Armenia was created. Ever since, the country celebrates its “birthday” on this day. There’s a parade in Yerevan, and various events are scheduled throughout the day.
New Year: One of the most popular holidays in Armenia is the New Year. Armenians celebrate it for a whole week. Usually, it starts on December 31, on New Year’s Eve. During the week, people visit their relatives, friends, host guests to celebrate the start of the year together and exchange gifts. Tables are full of traditional meals, cookies, and sweets. Kids write letters to Dzmer Papik, or the Armenian Santa Claus to bring them gifts.