Armenia Fest

Kotayk BeerLiz, Mike and I hit the Armenia Festival at St. Apkar Armenian Church in Scottsdale today.

Next year will be the 100th year anniversary of the Turkish/Ottoman led holocaust of Armenians. Turkey still denies it happened. Many of our previous presidents have promised to make this an issue, to call Turkey out and demand that they admit to historical wrongs – every one of these presidents has lied. As long as Turkey remains a strong ally, allowing us to have military bases there, we will allow the country to deny this atrocity – 25% of the Armenian population was eradicated in ethnic cleansing.

It was this systematic murder and torture of a race that convinced Hitler that he could get away with the eradication of Jews and Poles.But that was not what today’s event was about. Oh, there was a booth manned by Armenian-Americans that had some political literature; but today’s event was about celebrating the Armenian culture. That means lot’s of food, and some music, and food, and drinking, and food. Armenians love to party.

Of course, immediately upon arriving, Mike and I hit the bar and ordered bottles of Kotayk beer. We didn’t even now Armenia had a brewery…

We checked out the exhibits and vendors, and then ordered lunch. Liz ordered kebabs and sarma (dolmas) and boureg which is a layered tart thing made of layers of fillo dough and stuffed with spinach and cheese and herbs and spices. I had falefels and picked off of everyone else’s plate. The boureg was especially good.

We learned who Saint Apkar was. Don’t make the mistake of mispronouncing it St. Akbar..

Sant Apkar (Abgar V) was the first Christian ruler – having lived during Jesus time. St Apar suffered from leprosy, and legend has it thathe wrote a letter to Jesus. Jesus RSVP’d saying he couldn’t make the party, but he would send an apostle in his stead, after his ascension.

Part of the legend includes the story of an orginal portrait of Jesus, by the court artist and archivist Hannan, who visited and met with Jesus. While the correspondance and the portrait are likely myth, it is clear that Armenia was the first “Christian” nation, predating Constantinople by almost three centuries.

I didn’t get the live music, and neither did Liz or Mike – it was good music, a three piece jazz band – but it was not what I think of when I think of Armenia. However, they did pipe in traditional Armenian music; Liz and Mike reminisced about their childhood. Mike attended Armenain school, learned the Cyrillic alphabet and even how to read and write Armenian. He swears he was permanently scarred by those experiences, especially being forced to wear traditional Armenian garb of hand-sewn pants and sequin embedded vests with puffy shirts.

The music that they heard growing uo was more traditional, and by the end of the evening, Mike says, his Uncle Jack would stand up and wave a napkin – a challenge, and hit the dance floor. It would not be long before the men were all dancing – and Liz describes the dancing as the Cossack dances of the Russians, each male trying to outdo the others. That is something I would have liked to have seen.

Now we are back home, and I am relaxing under the pergola.Tomorrow morning Liz and I are going horseback riding for a couple hours in the Superstitions. I hope to have a lot of pics and will post about our morning.


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