Easter Basket, Armenian style.

In front of the cathedral old women sold coronets of mimosa and forsythia, and long rods of pussy willow. The young women clamored for the crowns, knowing they’d look cute. There were buckets of daffodils and bunches of hyacinth and scilla. Inside the church, glorious singing, clouds of incense, and people celebrating the Palm Sunday communion that marks the end of Lent. The place was packed but no one seemed to stay for the whole service. They brought their kids for a blessing, lit a candle or two, and then took off as the next shift arrived. I admired the altar, unveiled for the first time in nearly forty days, and kept my eyes peeled for palm fronds. But palm leaves don’t seem to be a thing at the start of Holy Week in Armenia. You’d think they’d bring them in from Iran along with the dates…

In Armenia you can buy a single egg for 60 dram– about 12 cents–and this is money well spent for there are few things as fresh and delicious anywhere on earth. In real life I don’t like eggs much, but here I crave them–yolks so creamy and satisfying there is no need for butter. Tradition has it that eggs for Easter should be boiled in a pot with onion skins and thus dyed the color of Christ’s blood. But today at the shuka there were paper twists of dye in many colors, and trays of wheat seeds germinated to make small fields of Easter grass– a soft landing for the decorated eggs. Several times I was invited to buy stumpy bundles of small sticks. Not sure, but I think they may be willow root to be shared as a symbol of new life. Also at the market, crates of ducklings, chicks and white rabbits with pink ears. Easter can’t be fun for everyone.

Walking away from the cathedral I passed teenage boys weaving crowns–competition for the older flower-sellers. In the park, other boys tore limbs from trees and stripped them of their branches: the first crew in an impromptu Easter assembly line.

About Liz Barron

US Peace Corps Volunteer in Armenia. Permanent address in Washington DC. Deep roots in Northern Ireland and persistent Belfast accent. Blogger,cook, mother, grandma, Scrabble-player and enthusiastic world traveler.
This entry was posted in Apostolic church, Armenia, Christianity, Church, Easter, Food, Great weekends, Happiness, Homemade decorations, Lent, Local delicacies, spring, Things that gladden the heart, travel. Bookmark the permalink.

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