Being Armenian means having unique national characteristics that define every aspect of your life. We’ve listed some features that make one a true Armenian.
Armenians are one of the most ancient ethnic groups in the whole world. We have lived and suffered for millennia in our homeland, of which only 10 percent remains in Armenian hands.
It is an extremely tiny nation when compared to the amount of people and ethnic groups living throughout the world, but we do have a lot to offer and have accomplished a lot of things in history.
There is a lot to be proud of when it comes to being Armenian. There are many characteristics of being Armenian that Armenians all around the world can relate to.
Being Armenian is Having Pride in Being the First Christian Nation
Armenians have a lot to boast about when it comes to our national heritage and history. According to the Bible, Noah’s Ark landed on Mount Ararat, which is historically Armenian land but today falls within Turkey’s borders.
Mount Ararat, however, is visible from Yerevan, Ejmiatsin, and other parts of the western side of the Republic of Armenia. It is a major symbol in Armenia’s national heritage and all Armenians can relate to one another with their intense love for the sacred mountain.
Armenia is also considered to be the first country in the world which has recognized Christianity as its official religion in 301 A.D. by King Trdat and his wife, Queen Ashkhen. A characteristic almost all Armenians share is being of the Christian faith.
There is the Armenian Apostolic Church, which most Armenians belong to, and the Armenian Catholic Church, much more common in the Diaspora. Armenians have been persecuted for centuries by their predominantly Muslim neighbors for being Christian, but have remained strong in their faith and remain Christians today, a little less than two thousand years later.
Being Armenian Means Speaking One of the Oldest and Unique Languages
Armenians also have a very rich and ancient language, Armenian, which even has its own alphabet. Tradition states that the Armenian saint Mesrop Mashtots invented the alphabet in 405 A.D., but some evidence has shown that the Armenian alphabet has existed long before this traditional date.
While there are many Armenians around the world who do not know the language, it is a rather difficult one. It is an Indo-European language, but does not have another language which it is very similar to.
Many other European languages, however, share many words with the Armenian language. It also has certain letters that are difficult to pronounce, but it is a very beautiful language.
There are many, many dialects spoken in Armenia, Artsakh, and the Diaspora. There are two types of Armenian- Eastern and Western. Eastern Armenian is the official language of the Republics of Armenia and Artsakh, whereas Western, considered an endangered language, is largely spoken in Diaspora communities.
Being Armenian Means Having a Last Name Ending With -yan/-ian
Another common characteristic of Armenians is their last names. Of course, there are Armenians who are not paternally Armenian, and therefore they do not carry an Armenian last name.
But almost all Armenian last names end in -yan, some of the most common being Hovhannisyan, Sargsyan, Gasparyan, and Petrosyan. There are many Armenians who spell their last names -ian, which is pronounced the same way.
There are also some less common Armenian last names which end in -ants or -uni, such as Bagratuni or Vardanyants. It is easy to distinguish someone as being Armenian based on their last name, but it is also important to know that there are some other cultures which have -ian last names, and that does not necessarily mean that the individual is an Armenian.
Being Armenian Means Being Everywhere in the World
Most Armenians live outside of Armenia in what is called the Armenian Diaspora. There are approximately 10 million Armenians living throughout the world, 3 million of which live in the Republics of Armenia and Artsakh.
The remaining 7 million live in many different countries, including Russia, the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Georgia, Iran, Greece, and more. Armenians typically live outside of Armenia due to the Armenian Genocide, which took place during World War I.
The Ottoman Turks expelled Armenians from their historical homeland, which was called Western Armenia but now is part of modern-day Turkey. Armenians were also raped, slaughtered, tortured, and starved to death. Many Armenians escaped their homeland and settled in countries outside of Armenia, where their children and grandchildren remained.
It is easy to find Armenians in many communities outside of Armenia. Many Armenians living in the Diaspora choose to visit Armenia every year and spend their time in their ancestral homeland.
There are also many Armenians living in the Diaspora who conduct fundraisers to help Armenia and poor families in Armenia, and millions of dollars in donations are sent to Armenia each year from the Diaspora. There are also small communities of Armenians living in Armenia who were born and raised overseas, but chose to move back to Armenia.
Over the past several years, due to the deteriorating situation in Syria, Armenia has opened its arms to Syrian-Armenian refugees, who have escaped to Armenia to flee the war and ISIS and have as a result created businesses and have found other means to establish their lives in Armenia.
Being Armenian Means Knowing How to Party
Another characteristic common to Armenians is their ability to party. Even the smallest event, such as a birthday, can be turned into a huge feast when there are Armenians involved. You will never go to any Armenian party and go hungry.
Armenians even hold a party for when a baby grows their first tooth, called “atam hatik.” During this party, the parents will place several objects, such as a book, stethoscope, scissors, and money, in front of the baby, all of which symbolize different professions.
Whichever object the baby chooses is believed the be the profession they will have as an adult. Armenians also go all out for baptisms and especially weddings. Weddings always have some hundreds of guests, and last all morning and evening.
The groom and his family go to the bride’s house, where the bride is getting dressed, and there is a small ritual for dressing the bride. Then they go to the church and are married by a priest, after which is the wedding ceremony at a fancy restaurant, where there is food and dancing galore.
Armenians also care very much for their families, and the family unit is considered to be very strong. It is impossible to divide an Armenian family. Armenians are known for doing anything, even risking their lives, for a family member.
When a girl gets married, her husband’s family treats her as their daughter, and when a boy gets married, his wife’s family treats him as their son.
Being Armenian Means Being Extremely Hospitable
Armenians also enjoy having lots of guests. It is not unusual for people to come and go to an Armenian’s house every day, whether it be for a specific reason or because they are just stopping by.
It is also common for guests to come and go without warning, so Armenians like to have their house cleaned and prepared in case a surprise guest shows up. Armenians make sure to have an entire table set for the guests, even if they cannot particularly afford it.
It is also considered to be polite to bring a gift to someone’s house when visiting, even if the person in question is a relative, whether that be a box of chocolates, flowers, wine, or anything of the sort. Armenians are known for being very hospitable and caring towards others, especially towards tourists.
Being an Armenian Means Being a Figher
Something else that is a very important characteristic of Armenians is that they are fighters. While Armenia is not a nation that enjoys warring, it also happens to be a nation that has been forced into warring due to its location.
Most recently, Armenia is engaged in a war with neighboring Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh territory, which is known to Armenians as Artsakh. A lot of Armenian blood has been spilled over this conflict. It began in the 1920s when Joseph Stalin gave the predominantly Armenian territory to Azerbaijan to ensure Moscow’s position as a power broker.
Over the years, the territory still remained predominantly Armenian. Then, in the 1980s, when it became clear that the Soviet Union was bound to collapse, the Armenian population declared that they wanted to become independent from Azerbaijan and unite with their fellow countrymen, the Armenians.
There were naturally many attempts from both the Soviet government and the Azerbaijani government to silence these protesters, but nothing was able to break the Armenian spirit.
In Baku, Sumgait, and other cities in Azerbaijan, any Armenians who were living there were either massacred or deported. This led up to a full-fledged war which continued until 1994, when a ceasefire agreement was signed.
Despite the fact that Artsakh remains internationally recognized as a part of Azerbaijan, it has declared itself an independent Armenian republic, almost the entire population is ethnically Armenian, the official language is Armenian, the official religion is Armenian Apostolicism, and people there live with the exact same Armenian traditions and identity as Armenians elsewhere.
Unfortunately, no country has officially recognized Artsakh’s independence, but several US states and provinces of other countries have done so. However, sadly, thousands of Armenian soldiers have lost their lives due to ceasefire violations at the borders over the past twenty-three years.
The worst violation of this ceasefire occurred two years ago in April of 2016, during what has been called the “Four Day War.” Well over 100 Armenian soldiers, officers, and even civilians gave their lives. Most of them were younger than 30.
This deeply shook the Armenian nation and Armenians all over the world united to help their country, fellow countrymen, and the families of those who died in the war.
Despite this, Armenians still remain firmly attached to their land, and will do everything in their power to ensure that their territory remains Armenian, because Armenians have lost so much over the centuries.
Being an Armenian Is an Immense Source of Pride
Armenians have so much to love and care about. We have a very rich culture and history, and are a nation that has a strong spirit.
Despite the fact that Armenia may not yet be the nation we dream of, and Armenia has many issues with its neighbors, it is important to remember that we should never give up and we should always stand united, as we have an important and proud nation which we need to take care of and ensure that it survives.
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