Saturday, April 07, 2007

Beauty, Motherhood and a little faith

On Palm Sunday I stopped at this church on my way through Yerevan to buy some fresh daffodils, these crowns and some of the branches they were selling (below). The crowns symbolize the one they put on Jesus before they crucified him. Apparently we are to keep it for 12 months (one month for every one of Jesus' disciples) and then in a year we should burn it.

The daffodils didn't symbolize anything-- just reminded me of home and brightened my bedroom.

Me delivering my poem. Do I look like I know what I'm saying? All I know is that it was about love.

Although yesterday was Good Friday, I didn’t have much of an opportunity to reflect on the day. This year Holy week coincides with the final week of women’s month. Today, April 7, is the conclusion of the festivities.

A little background: After the collapse of the Soviet Union celebrations of international women’s day were abandoned in Armenia. Instead, April 7 was introduced as state holiday of ‘Beauty and Motherhood.’ The new holiday immediately got popular among Armenians, as it commemorates one of the main holidays of Armenian Church, Annunciation. Today, people continue to celebrate women’s day on March 8 as well, so public discussion held on the topic of two Women’s Days in Armenia resulted in the recognition of Women’s Month (the time between March 8 and April 7).

To celebrate in the village, our event planner organized a community pagent. I was invited to attend and sing, but I refused to subject everyone to another episode of me singing on stage. We settled on reciting a poem in Armenian. While memorization and recitation is a common practice in the school and for Armenians in general, it did not come easy to me. I’ve been practicing my poem for a month now and was still scared of messing up (which I did). Fortunately, I made up for it by dancing all night and participating in one of the games. I like Armenian dancing better than American, and all I had to do to win the game was pair up with our gym teacher and eat an apple blindfolded. Sometimes the Armenians are very easy to please.

Towards the end of the night it was time for us to go around the room and provide a toast to the women and the holiday. Each table sent a representative to the front of the room to say a few words. By the time they reached our table (number 10) all of the common toasts had already been made (for health, blue skies, green paths, long life, everything good and kind, etc…). I leaned over to my friend and told her she should offer hope as our wish for the future of the women in the room. To me, it seemed like a good connection between the popular women’s holiday and rememberance of the risen Lord.

I colored eggs with 9a on Thursday and this morning they invited me to their women’s day party at school tonight. The Armenian’s are familiar with the egg coloring process, but they color hundreds and traditionally they’re only red (to symbolize Christ’s blood). A couple of weeks ago people started ‘planting’ lentils and other beans on wet cotton on platters and now they have small green yards for presenting the eggs. Tonight at our house we are going to prepare the traditional food: rice and raisins, fish and greens and then tomorrow I will pass out a little American plastic eggs and peeps to the kids. I’ve been using my lenten discipline (no sweets…except jam) to illustrate my faith and everyone is very excited about the prospect of indulging in ice cream and chocolate all day tomorrow. I understand the commercial Easter in Armenia, I hope to attend a traditional service tomorrow and see how the occasion is celebrated in the church.

Happy Easter all. He is Risen!


Anonymous said...

Sounds like you're right on track! I know we'll miss you're smiling face here at our Easter Celebration, but we're all proud of you. Love, UT

Anonymous said...

He has risen indeed! Sounds like you had quite an eventful Palm Sunday and Good Friday. I'm glad you were able to get some daffodils as the snow and below freezing weather here has taken care of all of mine. Happy Easter.
Love, Mom

Anonymous said...

Sarah, I'm slow in reading and catching up. Good pictures. Keep on keepin' on sister! Love, A.R.