Where I come from, this is how things used to be done!
Celebration of new year’s eve in my family and in most Armenian families who used to live in Aleppo City…
I would like to stop and reflect why I am choosing the wording, we used to…
War changed many family habits specially Christmas ones and that’s for both for the ones who decided to start a life outside Syria or with people who decided to stay in .
Probably, the main reason for me to actually put those traditions into words is because I want and I wish to hang on some kind of memory and tradition that I belong to.
The ones which shaped me, specifically when you’re abroad and you get all those questions for this kind of discussion, and your certainly phrase your reply with; where I come from this is how things used to be done!
We first celebrate with the family then after midnight we are out with friends.
What happens is that new year’s eve starts with a big colorful dinner table, surrounded with family members and sometimes family friends are invited. The night is about talking, laughing, sharing food, most of the time reflecting on previous year lessons learned and looking forward for the new one sharing wishes and hopes, each one of us Have a saying around the table loudly .
When the clock ticks 12.00 midnight and you’re about to enter a new year, we turn off all the lights at the house and put candles on the table to help lighten the dining room. We pray loudly all together, then we start wishing every one a happy new year. We leave our seats and normally start with the oldest on the table exchanging hugs ,kisses and wishes.
Later on, you may find most of the youth getting ready to go out. Your date or friends will pick you up and you end up partying with a massive crowd somewhere in the city of Aleppo, where a huge party is organized.
I called one of my family’s close friends and asked him a specific Diaspora Armenian new year tradition and he shared his point of view reminding me that youth leaving the family on new years eve after 12 is something that’s been in Aleppo in the last 25 -30 years.
I recall he had a special one which he had in his own family.
Mr. Karamanoukian proudly still manages to do it every year even though the rest of his family members stopped it , who shared it warmly even when we used to invite him to spend new year’s with us he had to do his own tradition around our family table.
Before we start the dinner, he would have a red wine glass and put a gold coin in it , then the glass will tour around the table and every guest will drink a sip. (The Red wine refers to the blood of Christ and the gold is used as its the world most respectful metal, mixing them together and sipping will be a prosperous and successful year ahead).
Food that must be on the table and shared with the invites .
We don’t have a specific table serving on new year’s eve. Every family has its own tradition, but what is common is to have a Turkey stuffed with Rice and different nuts.
Grape vine stuffed with minced meat and rice we call it yabrak or Sarma in Armenian
Kubbe must be on the table and a couple of salads or mezzes, sndwanat , suburak , taboule , yalanji.
Please find the pictures of the above list of dishes. Taken by my sister through the years
First day of the Year
New year’s eve is a tough drinking Eve, dancing and a long night of celebration that you end up mixing way too many drinks and top it up on champagne, welcoming the new year.
If you’re partying outside most probably you’re returning home early hours of the next day drunk and you don’t want to remember what you did the night before. All you need is your pillow .
In our case as Armenian Syrians we wake up half sober with one eye almost closed with a hangover on a dining table either at our grandmother’s or in your own house lunch time.
Your mother or grandmother will prepare a typical first day dish of the year,
which is called kubbe labaniye in Arabic كبة لبنية
in Armenian madzounov kofta – Մատզոնով քոֆդա
and the English translation is meatballs yogurt soup.
The first day of the year people all over the world tag each other with new year pictures. We tag each other with labaniye dishes pictures .
Actually the dish is so sacred and the yogurt will balance your fucked up stomach and wakes you up slowly from the hang over .
The main reason we eat this specific dish on the first day of the year is because it’s a white dish, and we believe the year will be white /peaceful and the coming days will give us nothing but inner peace, “a myth that’s been carried for generations”but that’s how it is. You have to start your year with a WHITE DISH .
It’s been almost 4 years I am married with a Dane who really appreciates this dish when my mom makes it. The first day of 2016 I prepared the meatballs way in advance and next morning I did my best to make it as tasty as my mom’s.
For a Dane who actually loves having a take away such as a Pizza for a hangover meal, his . first reaction is that he really appreciate it by saying honey that is sooo sweet of you , your keeping the tradition , and it takes efforts, but its too heavy as a hangover dish and your mom’s is still better.
Maybe our stomach has been used to it for years, but to be honest Its one of the traditions I really like. I think it’s a decent way of approaching a new year with positivity and HOPE, but the best part out of it for me is finishing two plates and going back to sleep “afternoon siesta”.
And this is how our year starts; with sleeping and a heavy yet delicious dish .
Happy new year
PLEASE NOTE its not necessary to eat this dish, it’s important to have a white dish , but this one is the most common dish shared .
Kubbe labaniye . Recipe. As I am more of a visual person . I found those videos very useful by clicking on part 1.2.3. . Enjoy the lady behind them . Mariette a talented lady with clear voice and useful videos . An Armenian Soul . with some notes on how my mom would do it is below each video .
My mom never uses onions in the meatballs. .
While the water is boiling for kufta , my mom adds Maggie cubes instead of seasoning the water with salt . so that the meatballs will end up more tasty …..
In my family we never use the corn , all we do is yogurt and one egg Wisk it , then slowly add water of the cooked meatballs as she is doing it in the video . ..