New Years/Christmas in Armenia
First of all I'd like to say to all my friends and family back home that I miss you all very much, especially this time of year since it's usually set aside to spend with friends and family. This is always the most difficult time of the year for me to be here.
That having been said the holidays here are very interesting because it's the biggest party of the year. All households in Armenia go through a lot of preparations for New Years and Christmas (Christmas being on January 6th here), cleaning their house as much as humanly possible and preparing all sorts of food to share with friends, family and their neighbors starting from New Year's day. The feast lasts for several days, depending on the traditions of the family. For instance, at my training village host family's house which I visited for New Year's 2006, they set up a very large table with seating for at least 8 people complete with dolma, blinchik, salads, fruit, vodka, wine, liquer and champagne. Dolma is made of ground beef and pork mixed with cooked rice and wrapped in cabbage leaves, and blinchik is ground beef wrapped in a small pancake similar to crepes, both very delicious. Many families even take out loans from the bank so that they can put on as impressive a feast as possible, as well as to buy gifts for family and friends. (Not entirely different from what we do in the states with many people paying off their credit card debt up until February or even later as a result of the holidays.) So New Year's here involves a lot of eating, a lot of drinking, and is always a fun time. I really enjoy it. Although I think I have probably gained 10 pounds in the time since January 1st of this year, certainly a good reason for me to start running again. :-)
It really is quite crazy at times though, with people staying up until 2am, 3am or even later on New Year's day, and then getting up early to entertain guests the next day. Armenia is known for it's hospitality, and it shows even more than usual at this time of the year.
Well, that's pretty much all I have to say at this point. Feel free to let me know of anything you would like me to talk about here, anything you are curious about, etc. Happy New Year to you all, and Tsavd Tanem(I carry your pain). :-)