Saturday, January 7, 2012

On Giving Gifts in Armenia

First, apologies to my readers. I just noticed that it’s been nearly 2 months since my last blog post. To say I’ve been busy is an understatement — but even so and since this is a new year, I want to endeavour to post more frequently on this blog. I’m not sure if it’s a good sign to start off the year’s first blog post with an apology, but I do hope you’ll forgive me.

Though this is not the first time I spent New Year’s Eve in Armenia, it is the first time I did so after I made the move to live here. So this year was particularly special, and recognizing this, I decided to do something special for my family in Armenia: make up lovely baskets of sweets, alcohol, cheeses, crackers and so on wrapped in cellophane — you know, something fairly common in North America to give to friends, family, work colleagues, clients and so on over the holidays.

So imagine my surprise when I found out that such baskets are normally reserved for weddings, engagements, and other such lavish affairs. I mean, no one simply shows up at someone’s house with a basket of goodies unless it’s a special occasion (and apparently, New Year’s and Christmas don’t count). And so it was that I showed up at my aunt’s house and then my other aunt’s house (both families on my mom’s side) and then the home of my family on my dad’s side bearing a basket with goodies wrapped up in cellophane and a big festive bow (see example of one such basket below).

On two occasions, I was told I shouldn’t have spent so much money (note to self: lavish items such as a bottle of Ani Ararat brandy and a package of Brie may not be appreciated when your family is trying to figure out how to make their money last till the end of the month) and on one occasion, the 5-year-old son in the family opened the package and dug into the Toblerone before anyone could blink an eye.

Apparently, I still have a lot to learn.

Though I have to say, the icing on the cake (which brings a smile to my face every time I think of it) is when I went to my partner’s dacha to spend NYE with her family bearing a similar such basket. Well, you can already imagine their surprise — but, this time (knowing about our relationship), they joked how I was the fiancé coming to take their daughter away (in Armenian: եկել եմ աղջիկ ուզելու)! Of course it didn’t help that a couple of days later, I left to return to Yerevan — taking their daughter with me :)

At the end of the day though I think my baskets brought a smile to the faces of my family members and “in-laws” (!) as they were unexpected gifts and not something usually a part of these holidays — kind of like me :)


  1. Adrineh jan, thx for positive emotions )))) nice story...
    we call yours basket "սինի կապել" (can't translate this in English).. and we use to սինի կապել in case of engage and wedding ceremony ))))))

  2. Hey, you could come with a basket of goodies to our house ANYTIME... we will only appreciate it :)
    ham el Shnorhavor on both the New Year and Engagement ;)

    will be waiting to read more... which reminds me, I have to write too :))

  3. Thanks, Reporter_arm and Raffi N, and Happy New Year and Christmas to you both! Raffi, I look forward to reading more of your blog posts :)