Armenian and Armenian Heritage

  • by Western Armenia, May 23, 2024 in Patrimony


Even in the diet of our ancestors, they gave a significant place to food prepared from cereal crops, well aware of its value.

Centuries before our era, people knew about the healing properties and high nutritional value of the sprouted grain and used it in preparing various dishes.

 Time, form, environment, temporary restrictions on eating and ways of stopping them, as well as other factors are part of food culture.

The basis of the latter is the idea of ​​sacrifice/offering of food (cereals, meat, dairy), the purpose of which was to express gratitude to the "patronizing forces" for a successful harvest or ask for an upcoming harvest, protection from natural disasters (for example, drought, long rains or locusts).

Accordingly, the culture of traditional food has a religious basis and is connected to the celebration culture, which is a practical reflection of all that. "Harissa, kash, katnapura, matagh were cooked near mehyans, sanctuaries and churches

and were mainly devoted to the unseen forces patronizing agriculture and animal husbandry. Harissa was devoted to grain cultivation, katnapura to ensuring the abundance of dairy products, kash to the success of cattle breeding, and matagh to the family's losslessness.

Dishes made from grains, symbolizing abundance, were served both at the beginning of the economic year (winter-spring transition period) and at the end of the economic year (autumn holidays), such as vakhindz, aghdaz, khashil, harissa, khorovu, etc.

During the spring festivals, they were aimed at promoting the fertility of nature.  Malt is remembered in professional literature as the food of Great Lent or Easter and symbolizes the arrival of spring.

Atsik was prepared in Airarat, Artsakh, Mush, Nor Bayazet, Shirak and elsewhere.

Based on the combined analysis of field ethnographic materials recorded from Syunik and data found in existing publications, we propose a point of view, according to which malt is not only in the winter-spring transition period, at the beginning of the economic year, but also after the autumn harvest, in the period of summing up the economic year and preparation for the coming year (sowing beginning and concluding the year) is a grain (specifically wheat) sacrifice / sacrifice aimed at the abundance of grain.

Atsik  as a Ritual Dish

The fact that malt is a ritual dish is suggested by some traditions and beliefs related to it, which are presented below.

The word atsik  has several meanings.

1. Sprouted, dried, large ground grains of breadfruit, which are used in the production of beer, alcohol. It is also called cask, mast.

2. By pounding the sprouted wheat in sand and boiling and evaporating the strained liquid, a meal, mash, is prepared.

In Shaki and Angeghakot villages of Sisian region, the name saman is most commonly used. Saman is a loanword and means hard. Apparently, the saman version of the name of the dish is related to the word saman, because the grass sprouted from the wheat grain is also used in its preparation. Atsik is also known by the names nishasta (Lori) or nishasta (Shirak).

To Be Continued