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Moderated Forums => Oriental Orthodox Discussion => Topic started by: Alpo on December 05, 2009, 12:23:26 PM

Title: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Alpo on December 05, 2009, 12:23:26 PM
I was reading a Finnish Pentecostal magazine when I ran into an article about Armenia. Suprisingly the article seemed rather decent and unpolemic even though it made several references to the Armenian Apostolic Church. It didn't contain any mentions of worship of Mary or salvation through works and the writer even seemed to consider Armenian Church as a Christian church. :o However it mentioned two Armenian traditions which sounded rather obscure for an ignorant convert. Firstly it mentioned that it is customary to attach pieces of cloth to neighbouring bushes and trees of churches in order to attain luck. Secondly it claimed that it is customary to sacrifice sheeps to God somewhere near the Geghard monastery. Allegedly these traditions have no theological reasoning but in practice they are accepted by the Armenian Church.

The article was propably fraud and contained misunderstandings since the magazine was Pentecostal but I'd still like to know a little more about these traditions. Do they actually exist? Are they accepted and supported by the Armenian Church?
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Salpy on December 05, 2009, 01:13:23 PM
Regarding attaching pieces of cloth to trees or bushes near holy places, it is true that it is a custom.  I've never heard, however, that it is to obtain "luck."  I've always interpreted it as a way to leave a little bit of yourself behind before leaving a place of pilgrimage.  I really don't know.  It's not an official teaching of the Church that people are supposed to do that sort of thing.  It's just really a custom or a "popular piety," as some people say.  I heard somewhere that it is one of those customs that goes back to pre-Christian times, and that it has pagan origins, but I can't say for sure.

My friends and I do it whenever we go to St. Antony Coptic Monastery in the Mojave desert in California.  Only we don't use cloth; we use dental floss.   :)  Once when we were doing it, one of the monks saw us.  He didn't say anything, but he gave us an odd look.  I guess Copts don't have that custom.   :)

Regarding the "sacrifice" of sheep, they are referring to something called "Madagh."  I don't know exactly how to translate that word into English, but I would not use "sacrifice," as it has the wrong connotations. 

Basically, it's a blessing service that is said over meat before it is eaten.  You do Madagh on special occasions, like a feast day, wedding or baptism.  It is lamb meat or mutton and it is not supposed to be spiced, except for salt which is specially blessed.  I know someone who was at St. Nerses Seminary and sometimes they would do a Madagh and take the meat over to a homeless shelter.

The "animal sacrifice" accusation comes in because in the Old Country you couldn't just go to the local supermarket and buy your meat all neatly wrapped in cellophane.  It came from an animal and you had to slaughter it before you could eat it.  In the old days, and I think they still do it this way in Armenia, prayers are said over the sheep before it is slaughtered. 

Folk customs have also developed which would probably turn off people from the West, such as brides and grooms stepping in the sheep's blood for good luck, etc.  This is an example of a local village folk custom though, not something the Church tells people to do. 

The priests themselves would not be actually slaughtering the animal, as I think priests are not supposed to ever kill anyone or anything, even an animal.  I've heard more than once that there is a canon saying that a butcher cannot become a priest.
 
Protestants will sometimes refer to Madagh in their polemics, accusing us of still offering animal sacrifices because we don't believe Christ's sacrifice on the cross was enough, etc.  None of that is true, however. 

Madagh is briefly explained here:

http://www.hyeetch.nareg.com.au/religion/feasts_p4.html#Madagh
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Alpo on December 06, 2009, 06:44:42 AM
Thank you for the info, Salpy! Even though the information of the article were false it's always interesting to hear about popular piety in different countries. :)
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: rakovsky on March 24, 2015, 07:59:20 AM
This post and most of the following were split off from the Oriental Orthodox picture of the day thread:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,64055.new.html#lastPost

Salpy



Photos under the heading Madagh ( մատաղը ) - Armenian ritual sacrifice.

(https://abisoghomyan.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/122412020_794e45148e_z.jpg)

(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5256/5571692615_562bf15b3d_o.jpg)

(http://ter-hambardzum.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Matax-2.jpg)
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: rakovsky on March 24, 2015, 08:08:47 AM
For more photos, see:
http://d.radow.eu/religionsrituale/religionsrituale-1000.php?Sprache=en
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matagh
http://foodperestroika.com/2011/07/30/armenian-adventures-part-3/

Khor Virap (a monastery, I think)
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2250/1892358770_f465670830_m.jpg
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Aram on March 24, 2015, 01:05:45 PM
Photos under the heading Madagh ( մատաղը ) - Armenian ritual sacrifice.
I was around for one of these in a village in Armenia, and let me tell you, it was quite the thing. Blood everywhere, the head just sitting there...

Later on, they lowered the entire skinned carcass into the pit they usually used for making bread. There was fire shooting ten feet in the air. Tasted great later on.
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Antonious Nikolas on March 24, 2015, 02:23:50 PM
What's the significance of displaying the head?
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: wgw on March 24, 2015, 03:47:36 PM
Photos under the heading Madagh ( մատաղը ) - Armenian ritual sacrifice.
I was around for one of these in a village in Armenia, and let me tell you, it was quite the thing. Blood everywhere, the head just sitting there...

Later on, they lowered the entire skinned carcass into the pit they usually used for making bread. There was fire shooting ten feet in the air. Tasted great later on.

I was under the impression that the Madagh was not encouraged by the hierarchy.  The Greek Orthodox have tried to stamp out animal sacrifice traditions that remain in some of the Greek Isles.
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: rakovsky on March 24, 2015, 07:51:33 PM
What's the significance of displaying the head?

Inquiring minds want to know.

(http://d.radow.eu/religionsrituale/pic/armenia-ritual-sacrifice.jpg)




Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Aram on March 24, 2015, 07:59:40 PM
What's the significance of displaying the head?
You have to put it somewhere?
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Aram on March 24, 2015, 08:04:44 PM
Photos under the heading Madagh ( մատաղը ) - Armenian ritual sacrifice.
I was around for one of these in a village in Armenia, and let me tell you, it was quite the thing. Blood everywhere, the head just sitting there...

Later on, they lowered the entire skinned carcass into the pit they usually used for making bread. There was fire shooting ten feet in the air. Tasted great later on.

I was under the impression that the Madagh was not encouraged by the hierarchy.  The Greek Orthodox have tried to stamp out animal sacrifice traditions that remain in some of the Greek Isles.
Where do you learn all of this stuff? We're not the Greek Orthodox Church.

Madagh is accepted by the hierarchy because it's an important part of our tradition. Maybe in the New World it's a little unconventional (for instance, my home parish's priest shuddered a bit when some local Bakutsis wanted to slaughter a lamb in the church parking lot after he blessed it. Ultimately, it didn't happen, because it was questionably legal under food safety laws.), but in Armenia and other communities abroad, it's a time-honored, traditional, and routine way of marking a monumental occasion or memorializing the deceased. It happens all the time. I mean, the priest blessed the lamb we slaughtered in the village after he blessed the family's newly-built home.
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Salpy on March 24, 2015, 08:26:18 PM
What's the significance of displaying the head?

Inquiring minds want to know.

(http://d.radow.eu/religionsrituale/pic/armenia-ritual-sacrifice.jpg)

Rakovsky,

I think this is the second or third time you've brought up the Armenian tradition of Madagh here or in the private forum.  It's been explained to you more than once, and I think in the private forum Isa brought up an instance where he saw a similar custom among Chalcedonian Arabs in the Middle East.  If you or others still have issues with Armenians blessing their meat before they eat it, or issues with the fact that outside the Western World meat doesn't come neatly packaged in cellophane at a supermarket, but rather requires the slaughter of an animal, then perhaps you can look for one of the old Madagh threads and resurrect it.  I'm not saying this as a mod, but as a poster who just doesn't want to see this thread get derailed.  Thanks.   :)
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Salpy on March 24, 2015, 08:34:34 PM
Here is a thread started by Alpo a while back asking about Madagh:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,24746.msg381941.html#msg381941
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: wgw on March 24, 2015, 08:37:31 PM
Understanding the Madagh as a blessing before a slaughter helps me understand it and have no problems with it.  I'm opposed to voodoo style animal sacrifices where in Benin they will slaughter a goat in the hopes of convincing some malignant Voudon deity like Thron or Mami Wata to grant a specific favor, like success on exams, a bountiful catch of fish or success in a business transaction.  But it's clear the Armenian Madagh is not that at all, but rather a blessed tradition connected to meat consumption, almost like saying grace, but with more blood.  So I am content with it.  Mind you roasting a lamb in the parking lot sounds like a capital idea to me, but I can understand why the priest was not in favor of it.

Moving back on subject, here is a link to the Maronite Syriac iconography:
http://www.maronite-heritage.com/Liturgical%20Year.php
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Antonious Nikolas on March 24, 2015, 09:09:34 PM
What's the significance of displaying the head?
You have to put it somewhere?

Oh, okay.  I thought there was some special significance to the way it was laid out.  I've seen sheep and goats slaughtered lots of times at weddings and stuff like that, but I've never seen any particular importance attached to where the head ended up, which seemed to be what was going on in the pics.  My mistake.
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Volnutt on March 24, 2015, 09:13:25 PM
That's a great custom! Maybe if we Westerners actually saw the animal being killed and prayed over it, we wouldn't have as much factory farm cruelty.

Then again, I'm unrealistic like that.
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Porter ODoran on March 24, 2015, 09:13:44 PM
Photos under the heading Madagh ( մատաղը ) - Armenian ritual sacrifice.
I was around for one of these in a village in Armenia, and let me tell you, it was quite the thing. Blood everywhere, the head just sitting there...

Later on, they lowered the entire skinned carcass into the pit they usually used for making bread. There was fire shooting ten feet in the air. Tasted great later on.

I was under the impression that the Madagh was not encouraged by the hierarchy.  The Greek Orthodox have tried to stamp out animal sacrifice traditions that remain in some of the Greek Isles.
Where do you learn all of this stuff? We're not the Greek Orthodox Church.

Madagh is accepted by the hierarchy because it's an important part of our tradition. Maybe in the New World it's a little unconventional (for instance, my home parish's priest shuddered a bit when some local Bakutsis wanted to slaughter a lamb in the church parking lot after he blessed it. Ultimately, it didn't happen, because it was questionably legal under food safety laws.), but in Armenia and other communities abroad, it's a time-honored, traditional, and routine way of marking a monumental occasion or memorializing the deceased. It happens all the time. I mean, the priest blessed the lamb we slaughtered in the village after he blessed the family's newly-built home.

I often think it's too bad we see Orthodox coming to America to live in the huge urban centers, when life far out in the country could be so beautified by their abilities and traditions. People still laughter their own meat in the American countryside -- laws are different and culture is different -- but the ability and will is rapidly falling away.
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: hecma925 on March 25, 2015, 12:28:28 AM
Photos under the heading Madagh ( մատաղը ) - Armenian ritual sacrifice.
I was around for one of these in a village in Armenia, and let me tell you, it was quite the thing. Blood everywhere, the head just sitting there...

Later on, they lowered the entire skinned carcass into the pit they usually used for making bread. There was fire shooting ten feet in the air. Tasted great later on.

I was under the impression that the Madagh was not encouraged by the hierarchy.  The Greek Orthodox have tried to stamp out animal sacrifice traditions that remain in some of the Greek Isles.
Where do you learn all of this stuff? We're not the Greek Orthodox Church.

Madagh is accepted by the hierarchy because it's an important part of our tradition. Maybe in the New World it's a little unconventional (for instance, my home parish's priest shuddered a bit when some local Bakutsis wanted to slaughter a lamb in the church parking lot after he blessed it. Ultimately, it didn't happen, because it was questionably legal under food safety laws.), but in Armenia and other communities abroad, it's a time-honored, traditional, and routine way of marking a monumental occasion or memorializing the deceased. It happens all the time. I mean, the priest blessed the lamb we slaughtered in the village after he blessed the family's newly-built home.

I often think it's too bad we see Orthodox coming to America to live in the huge urban centers, when life far out in the country could be so beautified by their abilities and traditions. People still laughter their own meat in the American countryside -- laws are different and culture is different -- but the ability and will is rapidly falling away.

you can't spell "slaughter" without "laughter".
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Aram on March 25, 2015, 12:53:31 AM
Understanding the Madagh as a blessing before a slaughter helps me understand it and have no problems with it.  I'm opposed to voodoo style animal sacrifices where in Benin they will slaughter a goat in the hopes of convincing some malignant Voudon deity like Thron or Mami Wata to grant a specific favor, like success on exams, a bountiful catch of fish or success in a business transaction.  But it's clear the Armenian Madagh is not that at all, but rather a blessed tradition connected to meat consumption, almost like saying grace, but with more blood.  So I am content with it.  Mind you roasting a lamb in the parking lot sounds like a capital idea to me, but I can understand why the priest was not in favor of it.

Moving back on subject, here is a link to the Maronite Syriac iconography:
http://www.maronite-heritage.com/Liturgical%20Year.php
Politely, take a step back. Seriously. I really wonder how you make the connections you make. As an Armenian, your interpretations about our community are often so far off the mark it's hard to understand just how you're getting from Point A to Point B. Sometimes it's better to ask questions rather than shoot from the hip with five-paragraph essays about what you think is correct and how you things out to be, because it just comes off as flippant.
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Aram on March 25, 2015, 12:57:28 AM
Photos under the heading Madagh ( մատաղը ) - Armenian ritual sacrifice.
I was around for one of these in a village in Armenia, and let me tell you, it was quite the thing. Blood everywhere, the head just sitting there...

Later on, they lowered the entire skinned carcass into the pit they usually used for making bread. There was fire shooting ten feet in the air. Tasted great later on.

I was under the impression that the Madagh was not encouraged by the hierarchy.  The Greek Orthodox have tried to stamp out animal sacrifice traditions that remain in some of the Greek Isles.
Where do you learn all of this stuff? We're not the Greek Orthodox Church.

Madagh is accepted by the hierarchy because it's an important part of our tradition. Maybe in the New World it's a little unconventional (for instance, my home parish's priest shuddered a bit when some local Bakutsis wanted to slaughter a lamb in the church parking lot after he blessed it. Ultimately, it didn't happen, because it was questionably legal under food safety laws.), but in Armenia and other communities abroad, it's a time-honored, traditional, and routine way of marking a monumental occasion or memorializing the deceased. It happens all the time. I mean, the priest blessed the lamb we slaughtered in the village after he blessed the family's newly-built home.

I often think it's too bad we see Orthodox coming to America to live in the huge urban centers, when life far out in the country could be so beautified by their abilities and traditions. People still laughter their own meat in the American countryside -- laws are different and culture is different -- but the ability and will is rapidly falling away.
Well, these are Azeri-born Armenians that didn't necessarily come from the countryside. The urban/suburban dichotomy doesn't exist in the same way that it does in the West--for these folks, it's perfectly acceptable to slaughter an animal anywhere you want, city or country. For us, we look at the church parking lot and the catering facility a hundred yards away, and get worried about the USDA, local ordinances, food safety and cleanliness concerns, etc. etc. etc. For them, it's just doing what they've always done. And they're not necessarily wrong. We've just been accustomed to different standards and practices here.
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: caladri on March 25, 2015, 02:54:23 AM
I think priests are not supposed to ever kill anyone or anything, even an animal.  I've heard more than once that there is a canon saying that a butcher cannot become a priest.

Does anyone else in the forum happen to know about this or perhaps have a source for either part, either the injunction against all killing, or against butchers becoming priests?
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Antonious Nikolas on March 25, 2015, 11:01:23 AM
Understanding the Madagh as a blessing before a slaughter helps me understand it and have no problems with it.  I'm opposed to voodoo style animal sacrifices where in Benin they will slaughter a goat in the hopes of convincing some malignant Voudon deity like Thron or Mami Wata to grant a specific favor, like success on exams, a bountiful catch of fish or success in a business transaction.  But it's clear the Armenian Madagh is not that at all, but rather a blessed tradition connected to meat consumption, almost like saying grace, but with more blood.  So I am content with it.  Mind you roasting a lamb in the parking lot sounds like a capital idea to me, but I can understand why the priest was not in favor of it.

Moving back on subject, here is a link to the Maronite Syriac iconography:
http://www.maronite-heritage.com/Liturgical%20Year.php
Politely, take a step back. Seriously. I really wonder how you make the connections you make. As an Armenian, your interpretations about our community are often so far off the mark it's hard to understand just how you're getting from Point A to Point B. Sometimes it's better to ask questions rather than shoot from the hip with five-paragraph essays about what you think is correct and how you things out to be, because it just comes off as flippant.

+1000

I've been trying to get this message across to wgw in subtle and not so subtle ways for weeks, and he refuses to pump the breaks.  Other posters - from our sister Malankara churches - have done the same, but he continues to press on in invincible ignorance, convinced that he is some sort of armchair expert on the peoples and churches of our Communion.  He is not.
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Aram on March 25, 2015, 11:11:14 AM
If priests aren't allowed to kill anything, then I know a lot of fishermen priests who should be deposed for freshly-caught seafood dinners...
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Salpy on March 25, 2015, 12:52:19 PM
Yeah, I know.   :)   Like I said though, I've heard more than once that this old canon exists.  Obviously, it's not followed closely anymore.
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Mor Ephrem on March 25, 2015, 12:58:24 PM
I've never come across a canon prohibiting butchers from becoming priests, though it might exist.  There are canons to the effect that those who have killed men, even if totally accidental, are impeded from ordination, and clerics who kill men, even if totally accidental, are deposed.  To what extent these are strictly enforced, however, is another issue. 
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Aram on March 25, 2015, 01:50:39 PM
Just for giggles, I pulled out my copy of The Rudder, which while EO, does include a number of canons the OO churches still adhere to. The closest I can find is Canon 66 of the 85 Canons (page 113):

Quote
If any Clergyman strikes anyone in a fight, and kills by a single blow, let him be deposed from office for his insolence. But if he be a layman, let him be excommunicated.

And Canon 51 of the 102 Canons (Sixth Council, obviously not OO) (page 350):
Quote
The holy and ecumenical Council universally prohibits so-called pantomimes and their theatrical exhibitions; afterwards, in keeping with this, also the spectacles of wild-animal fury and of hunters' prowess, and the execution of dances on the stage.

The commentary states this dictates clergy cannot go to things like dogfights and other animal fighting exhibitions. It's not about hunting per se.

That's the best I can do. Not going to dig through this tome any more than that, it's a slog.

Fr. Oliver Herbel, an OCA priest, wrote his MDiv thesis at St. Vlad's (IIRC) on an EO ethic of hunting. I think it's available somewhere in published form. That might be helpful, too. Long story short, I'm not sure things like hunting and fishing are actually things for which someone could be deposed from the priesthood. The intent seems to be on spectacle and suffering, not the simple act of subsistence. And at any rate, not something, if it even exists, that is in any way enforced.
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Aram on March 25, 2015, 02:10:39 PM
One last thing on madagh, in the 102 Canons of the Sixth Council:

Canon 94 (page 406):

Quote
And this too occurs in the country of the Armenians, we have learned to wit, that some persons, roasting pieces of meat within the space of the sacrificial altars of sacred temples, offer parts assigned to priests, distributing them in a Jewish fashion. Hence, with the object of maintaining the unblemished sanctity of the Church, we decree that none of her priests shall be permitted to accept consecrated pieces of meat from those offering them, but shall be content with only what the offerer is pleased to offer, any such offer being made outside of the church. If anyone fail to do so, let them be excommunicated.

The interpretation questions the canon's intent, wondering if there was a misplaced comma that would cause one to believe Armenians turned their altars into kitchens. The rest of the canon seems to work off an entirely different premise. It seemed more likely the practice being described was pieces of cooked meat prepared elsewhere being brought into the church to be blessed by the priest. The canon was intended to prohibit this practice, instead saying that it was OK for such offerings to be blessed, slaughtered, prepared, and consumed outside the church. It makes sense.
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: rakovsky on March 25, 2015, 02:41:37 PM
What's the significance of displaying the head?
You have to put it somewhere?
Why do they decapitate it instead of draining the blood like the ancient Jews did (and from which Madagh shares a conceptual similarity).
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: minasoliman on March 25, 2015, 02:49:41 PM
What's the significance of displaying the head?
You have to put it somewhere?
Why do they decapitate it instead of draining the blood like the ancient Jews did (and from which Madagh shares a conceptual similarity).

There's practically no difference really. It still leads to draining of blood.
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: rakovsky on March 25, 2015, 03:03:56 PM
What's the significance of displaying the head?
You have to put it somewhere?
Why do they decapitate it instead of draining the blood like the ancient Jews did (and from which Madagh shares a conceptual similarity).

There's practically no difference really. It still leads to draining of blood.

Still, why is that the practice instead? Why use decapitation instead of another form, handed down from Judaism?
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: minasoliman on March 25, 2015, 03:11:18 PM
Have you wondered maybe because they weren't Jews?  Should it really matter how one slaughters an animal after Christ?
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: rakovsky on March 25, 2015, 04:05:22 PM
Understanding the Madagh as a blessing before a slaughter helps me understand it and have no problems with it.
WGW,
If you go onto the other Madagh threads, you will find that it is more than just making a blessing before some act (eg. blessing a house, a travel, a dinner, etc.) It includes a philosophy wherein the sacrifice or offering occurs at the moment of the animal's death, rather than, say, the moment at which the animal or meat is donated to the poor. The idea is that the animal is giving up its life as an offering. This idea of an animal giving up its life for a benefit for another (vicarious atonement) was in ancient Judaism a prefigurement of the Messiah.

Wikipedia reports:
Quote
Some religious scholars assert that madagh (or sometimes matal) has its roots in ancient liturgical sacrifice, evoking the animal sacrifice of Armenian pagan religious rites. Early Christian church fathers allowed to continue because of its parallels with biblical Old Testament sacrifices and as a means of winning pagan practitioners over to the Church.

To me, the decapitation is something that distinguishes it from Judaism's slaughters, which as Salpy rightly said, passed in part into the Chalcedonian Arab churches.

The ritual animal sacrifices that passed into Christianity from Judaism IMO are not necessarily "bad", since Paul performed them after he became Christian. The issue is rather that they are superfluous, as the Book of Hebrews points out. The animal sacrifices were older forms that pointed to Christ's sacrifice.



Quote
  I'm opposed to voodoo style animal sacrifices where in Benin they will slaughter a goat in the hopes of convincing some malignant Voudon deity like Thron or Mami Wata to grant a specific favor, like success on exams, a bountiful catch of fish or success in a business transaction.  But it's clear the Armenian Madagh is not that at all, but rather a blessed tradition connected to meat consumption, almost like saying grace, but with more blood.
 
Of course, the Armenian Madagh is not a sacrifice to a bad deity. However, it is not just a matter of "saying grace" as part of the meat consumption itself. That's because, for example, the blessing is not at the moment of consumption, but rather at the moment of killing. Perhaps there are also Madaghs connected with benefits from God, remembrances of Armenian martyrs, the building of a new house, etc. If that's the case, then it suggests that indeed it relates to bringing about some favor from a Deity (in this case God), which your analogy expressed.
Quote

So I am content with it. 
I am no a fan of ritual animal sacrifice. Slaughtering animals itself is not something that I could not theoretically handle, since I eat meat. It's rather making animal killing into ritual that feels weird if it is not part of Jewish tradition or an heir to that tradition.
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Aram on March 25, 2015, 04:11:05 PM
Well, my answer to you is that you don't have to be comfortable with our customs, because you're not a member of our community. Madagh is an established tradition within Armenian religious culture, and has a purpose and meaning specific to our people's experience--no matter where it came from. No one is asking you to participate or partake. I guess I don't know what else to tell you.
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Brigidsboy on March 25, 2015, 04:15:16 PM
Well, my answer to you is that you don't have to be comfortable with our customs, because you're not a member of our community. Madagh is an established tradition within Armenian religious culture, and has a purpose and meaning specific to our people's experience--no matter where it came from. No one is asking you to participate or partake. I guess I don't know what else to tell you.

What Aram said!
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: wgw on March 25, 2015, 04:19:40 PM
Based on the information provided and my love for the Armenians I grew up with, I'm completely comfortable with Madagh and would like to participate in one.  Even if it involves roast lamb in the parking lot.  Which to me sounds like a lot of fun, but a holy occasion also for sure.  Now shall we get back to pictures?  I saw recently a lovely image of an Armenian church in Georgoa which I need to find the link to.
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: rakovsky on March 25, 2015, 04:29:02 PM
Well, my answer to you is that you don't have to be comfortable with our customs, because you're not a member of our community. Madagh is an established tradition within Armenian religious culture, and has a purpose and meaning specific to our people's experience--no matter where it came from. No one is asking you to participate or partake.
In ancient Judaism and paganism: The animal was killed according to a special way in a religious ritual in return for a benefit from a deity. The animal offered up its life as an "offering" or "sacrifice". This is the same thing that happens in the Madagh sacrifice (eg. the special method of killing is decapitation, apparently).

The Bible and church fathers explained that those ancient sacrifices were precursors to Christ giving up His own life for others. One change from ancient Judaism  paganism is that, I think, the priest is banned from committing the killing. Also, I find it noteworthy that the Madaghs cannot be committed inside the church. Nonetheless, I don't find animal sacrifice objectionable when it came from ancient Judaism (as in the Palestinian case), since Paul still performed it after his conversion.
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: rakovsky on March 25, 2015, 04:35:41 PM
Based on the information provided and my love for the Armenians I grew up with, I'm completely comfortable with Madagh and would like to participate in one.  Even if it involves roast lamb in the parking lot.  Which to me sounds like a lot of fun

(http://1funny.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/cute-lamb.jpg)
"Yey Wgw! I luv fun! Whats mada mean?"
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Aram on March 25, 2015, 04:36:40 PM
Well, my answer to you is that you don't have to be comfortable with our customs, because you're not a member of our community. Madagh is an established tradition within Armenian religious culture, and has a purpose and meaning specific to our people's experience--no matter where it came from. No one is asking you to participate or partake.
In ancient Judaism and paganism: The animal was killed according to a special way in a religious ritual in return for a benefit from a deity. The animal offered up its life as an "offering" or "sacrifice". This is the same thing that happens in the Madagh sacrifice (eg. the special method of killing is decapitation, apparently).

The Bible and church fathers explained that those ancient sacrifices were precursors to Christ giving up His own life for others. One change from ancient Judaism  paganism is that, I think, the priest is banned from committing the killing. Also, I find it noteworthy that the Madaghs cannot be committed inside the church. Nonetheless, I don't find animal sacrifice objectionable when it came from ancient Judaism (as in the Palestinian case), since Paul still performed it after his conversion.
No. Madagh involves slitting the throat. The head is removed later.
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Mor Ephrem on March 25, 2015, 05:22:37 PM
Well, my answer to you is that you don't have to be comfortable with our customs, because you're not a member of our community. Madagh is an established tradition within Armenian religious culture, and has a purpose and meaning specific to our people's experience--no matter where it came from. No one is asking you to participate or partake.
In ancient Judaism and paganism: The animal was killed according to a special way in a religious ritual in return for a benefit from a deity. The animal offered up its life as an "offering" or "sacrifice". This is the same thing that happens in the Madagh sacrifice (eg. the special method of killing is decapitation, apparently).

The Bible and church fathers explained that those ancient sacrifices were precursors to Christ giving up His own life for others. One change from ancient Judaism  paganism is that, I think, the priest is banned from committing the killing. Also, I find it noteworthy that the Madaghs cannot be committed inside the church. Nonetheless, I don't find animal sacrifice objectionable when it came from ancient Judaism (as in the Palestinian case), since Paul still performed it after his conversion.
No. Madagh involves slitting the throat. The head is removed later.

Don't let facts get in the way of a good conspiracy theory. 

BTW, have you noticed that the neck of a beheaded lamb is similar in shape to King Solomon's ring? 
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Aram on March 25, 2015, 06:05:11 PM
lol well now that you mention it...

Also, while we're on the topic of madagh, it should be noted that it's such an integral custom that there's a devoted service for it in the Armenian Book of Needs (the Mashdots). It's similar in structure and composition to the requiem service (Hokehankisd), though in somewhat truncated form.
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Antonious Nikolas on March 25, 2015, 06:23:38 PM
Well, my answer to you is that you don't have to be comfortable with our customs, because you're not a member of our community. Madagh is an established tradition within Armenian religious culture, and has a purpose and meaning specific to our people's experience--no matter where it came from. No one is asking you to participate or partake. I guess I don't know what else to tell you.

+1

And I'm not Armenian.  If anyone here is uncomfortable with this Christian ceremony, or the leaving clothes tied to a holy site thing, whatever.  You don't have to "get it".  One time I was praying in an Armenian Church and when Derhag came around and splashed the people with holy water at the end, the guy next to me said, "Sorry.  This is a holdover from Armenian paganism" or something along those lines.  "No it's not," I said, "We do it in my (Coptic) church too" and I explained to him the custom's significance in our tradition.  Later, at coffee hour, he told his priest who said that's also what it means to Armenians.  We as Oriental Orthodox need to stop apologizing for who we are and how we express our very Orthodox Faith, no matter how it makes others feel.
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Salpy on March 25, 2015, 11:44:26 PM
A tangent about FGM and circumcision was split off and put here:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,64236.0.html


Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: hecma925 on March 26, 2015, 12:45:38 AM
Photos under the heading Madagh ( մատաղը ) - Armenian ritual sacrifice.
I was around for one of these in a village in Armenia, and let me tell you, it was quite the thing. Blood everywhere, the head just sitting there...

Later on, they lowered the entire skinned carcass into the pit they usually used for making bread. There was fire shooting ten feet in the air. Tasted great later on.

Do you eat the meat from the head?
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Salpy on March 26, 2015, 12:53:56 AM
My mom said that when she was a kid, they would boil the sheep's head.  They used every part of the animal.  Nothing was wasted.
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: orthonorm on March 26, 2015, 12:54:23 AM
Photos under the heading Madagh ( մատաղը ) - Armenian ritual sacrifice.
I was around for one of these in a village in Armenia, and let me tell you, it was quite the thing. Blood everywhere, the head just sitting there...

Later on, they lowered the entire skinned carcass into the pit they usually used for making bread. There was fire shooting ten feet in the air. Tasted great later on.

I was under the impression that the Madagh was not encouraged by the hierarchy.  The Greek Orthodox have tried to stamp out animal sacrifice traditions that remain in some of the Greek Isles.
Where do you learn all of this stuff? We're not the Greek Orthodox Church.

Madagh is accepted by the hierarchy because it's an important part of our tradition. Maybe in the New World it's a little unconventional (for instance, my home parish's priest shuddered a bit when some local Bakutsis wanted to slaughter a lamb in the church parking lot after he blessed it. Ultimately, it didn't happen, because it was questionably legal under food safety laws.), but in Armenia and other communities abroad, it's a time-honored, traditional, and routine way of marking a monumental occasion or memorializing the deceased. It happens all the time. I mean, the priest blessed the lamb we slaughtered in the village after he blessed the family's newly-built home.

Lol. Yeah that would be some scene. Killing animals for religious rituals is likely not going to get a lot of traction in America no matter how much factory meat we eat a day. People who just want to kill a chicken who belong to the afrocaribean religions have lotsa trouble once the moral majority find out about it.

Strangely, as a kid in the backwoods parish I attended we slaughtered a hog often to roast it for the meal on Sunday.

When in Rome!
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Aram on March 26, 2015, 12:54:53 AM
Photos under the heading Madagh ( մատաղը ) - Armenian ritual sacrifice.
I was around for one of these in a village in Armenia, and let me tell you, it was quite the thing. Blood everywhere, the head just sitting there...

Later on, they lowered the entire skinned carcass into the pit they usually used for making bread. There was fire shooting ten feet in the air. Tasted great later on.

Do you eat the meat from the head?
They served just about everything else (knuckles, some organ meats IIRC, etc.), but I can't remember if the head was served. Lamb's head stew is an Armenian delicacy, however, so it's possible. The feast, shall we say, got a bit hazy by the fourth long-winded toast.
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: orthonorm on March 26, 2015, 12:55:06 AM
My mom said that when she was a kid, they would boil the sheep's head.  They used every part of the animal.  Nothing was wasted.

Sounds like growing up to me. I don't think we did anything with eyes though . . .
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: orthonorm on March 26, 2015, 12:56:28 AM
Photos under the heading Madagh ( մատաղը ) - Armenian ritual sacrifice.
I was around for one of these in a village in Armenia, and let me tell you, it was quite the thing. Blood everywhere, the head just sitting there...

Later on, they lowered the entire skinned carcass into the pit they usually used for making bread. There was fire shooting ten feet in the air. Tasted great later on.

I was under the impression that the Madagh was not encouraged by the hierarchy.  The Greek Orthodox have tried to stamp out animal sacrifice traditions that remain in some of the Greek Isles.
Where do you learn all of this stuff? We're not the Greek Orthodox Church.

Madagh is accepted by the hierarchy because it's an important part of our tradition. Maybe in the New World it's a little unconventional (for instance, my home parish's priest shuddered a bit when some local Bakutsis wanted to slaughter a lamb in the church parking lot after he blessed it. Ultimately, it didn't happen, because it was questionably legal under food safety laws.), but in Armenia and other communities abroad, it's a time-honored, traditional, and routine way of marking a monumental occasion or memorializing the deceased. It happens all the time. I mean, the priest blessed the lamb we slaughtered in the village after he blessed the family's newly-built home.


I often think it's too bad we see Orthodox coming to America to live in the huge urban centers, when life far out in the country could be so beautified by their abilities and traditions. People still laughter their own meat in the American countryside -- laws are different and culture is different -- but the ability and will is rapidly falling away.

you can't spell "slaughter" without "laughter".

Lol
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Volnutt on March 26, 2015, 12:57:04 AM
Understanding the Madagh as a blessing before a slaughter helps me understand it and have no problems with it.
WGW,
If you go onto the other Madagh threads, you will find that it is more than just making a blessing before some act (eg. blessing a house, a travel, a dinner, etc.) It includes a philosophy wherein the sacrifice or offering occurs at the moment of the animal's death, rather than, say, the moment at which the animal or meat is donated to the poor. The idea is that the animal is giving up its life as an offering. This idea of an animal giving up its life for a benefit for another (vicarious atonement) was in ancient Judaism a prefigurement of the Messiah.

Wikipedia reports:
Quote
Some religious scholars assert that madagh (or sometimes matal) has its roots in ancient liturgical sacrifice, evoking the animal sacrifice of Armenian pagan religious rites. Early Christian church fathers allowed to continue because of its parallels with biblical Old Testament sacrifices and as a means of winning pagan practitioners over to the Church.

To me, the decapitation is something that distinguishes it from Judaism's slaughters, which as Salpy rightly said, passed in part into the Chalcedonian Arab churches.

The ritual animal sacrifices that passed into Christianity from Judaism IMO are not necessarily "bad", since Paul performed them after he became Christian. The issue is rather that they are superfluous, as the Book of Hebrews points out. The animal sacrifices were older forms that pointed to Christ's sacrifice.



Quote
  I'm opposed to voodoo style animal sacrifices where in Benin they will slaughter a goat in the hopes of convincing some malignant Voudon deity like Thron or Mami Wata to grant a specific favor, like success on exams, a bountiful catch of fish or success in a business transaction.  But it's clear the Armenian Madagh is not that at all, but rather a blessed tradition connected to meat consumption, almost like saying grace, but with more blood.
 
Of course, the Armenian Madagh is not a sacrifice to a bad deity. However, it is not just a matter of "saying grace" as part of the meat consumption itself. That's because, for example, the blessing is not at the moment of consumption, but rather at the moment of killing. Perhaps there are also Madaghs connected with benefits from God, remembrances of Armenian martyrs, the building of a new house, etc. If that's the case, then it suggests that indeed it relates to bringing about some favor from a Deity (in this case God), which your analogy expressed.
Quote

So I am content with it. 
I am no a fan of ritual animal sacrifice. Slaughtering animals itself is not something that I could not theoretically handle, since I eat meat. It's rather making animal killing into ritual that feels weird if it is not part of Jewish tradition or an heir to that tradition.

Don't the EO bring "firstfruits" like grapes into the sanctuary at some point? How about tithing? I don't see how that's different in kind from offering an animal to God- as long as the distinction with the Old Testament practice is understood, which I'm sure well-informed Armenians do. I doubt it's some pagan quid pro quo like, "we kill this goat for you and you give dad a new job."

If we are to offer our very bodies to God in gratitude, then why can't that include our livestock? Just because God once used animal sacrifice as a type of Christ, that doesn't mean nobody is ever to offer an animal to God again at any point and for any reason.
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: orthonorm on March 26, 2015, 01:01:58 AM
Well, my answer to you is that you don't have to be comfortable with our customs, because you're not a member of our community. Madagh is an established tradition within Armenian religious culture, and has a purpose and meaning specific to our people's experience--no matter where it came from. No one is asking you to participate or partake. I guess I don't know what else to tell you.

Of course when Armenians come to America, that changes things. As to St. Monica, er she isn't a Saint for you?

When in USA! St. Paul's discussions of the strong suffering the weak would be applicable here if it came down to terrible offense.
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Salpy on March 26, 2015, 01:09:53 AM
Here in the US, Madagh is usually done with meat bought at the supermarket.  We do it at my church on our feast day.  The Ladies Society buys and prepares a large amount of meat and it is blessed with the Madagh prayers by the priest after the liturgy.  Then everyone eats.  It's not about watching an animal get killed.  It's about taking the meat that God has given us, offering it up to Him as the priest blesses it, and then eating it together as a community.  Like I've already explained, the killing takes place because in a lot of places in the world, people can't go to the local supermarket and buy their meat already dead. 
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: hecma925 on March 26, 2015, 01:13:11 AM
Photos under the heading Madagh ( մատաղը ) - Armenian ritual sacrifice.
I was around for one of these in a village in Armenia, and let me tell you, it was quite the thing. Blood everywhere, the head just sitting there...

Later on, they lowered the entire skinned carcass into the pit they usually used for making bread. There was fire shooting ten feet in the air. Tasted great later on.

Do you eat the meat from the head?
They served just about everything else (knuckles, some organ meats IIRC, etc.), but I can't remember if the head was served. Lamb's head stew is an Armenian delicacy, however, so it's possible. The feast, shall we say, got a bit hazy by the fourth long-winded toast.
\

I need to make some Armenian friends.
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: orthonorm on March 26, 2015, 01:18:50 AM
Here in the US, Madagh is usually done with meat bought at the supermarket.  We do it at my church on our feast day.  The Ladies Society buys and prepares a large amount of meat and it is blessed with the Madagh prayers by the priest after the liturgy.  Then everyone eats.  It's not about watching an animal get killed.  It's about taking the meat that God has given us, offering it up to Him as the priest blesses it, and then eating it together as a community.  Like I've already explained, the killing takes place because in a lot of places in the world, people can't go to the local supermarket and buy their meat already dead.

I am all for killing it yourself, but it seems clear this tradition would disturb the mores of many Americans, rightfully or wrongfully, which seems like the Armenians are happy not to do, likely to be good Christian witnesses. I thought perhaps Aram was describing a scene here in the States where it would be odd to see at best.

The Pascha procession gets odds from neighbors looks at some EO parishes I've been to. Can't imagine if goats were being slaughtered.
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Porter ODoran on March 26, 2015, 01:34:05 AM
Again, it wouldn't be that odd outside cities. There's more to America than urban centers, believe it or not.
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: orthonorm on March 26, 2015, 01:40:53 AM
Again, it wouldn't be that odd outside cities. There's more to America than urban centers, believe it or not.

See above. I said the same. Find agreement!
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Aram on March 26, 2015, 01:53:35 AM
Alright, I'm confused.
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: minasoliman on March 26, 2015, 12:40:02 PM
Alright, I'm confused.

A common occurrence when certain posters like to interject
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: orthonorm on March 26, 2015, 01:29:29 PM
Alright, I'm confused.

A common occurrence when certain posters like to interject

Better an honest confusion than a misplaced certainty.
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: minasoliman on March 26, 2015, 03:22:54 PM
Alright, I'm confused.

A common occurrence when certain posters like to interject

Better an honest confusion than a misplaced certainty.

Don't kid yourself.  Fr. Thomas Hopko at least makes a lot more sense than you do, and does not like to just say things to stir the pot.
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: rakovsky on March 26, 2015, 07:40:41 PM
FROM THE PASTOR'S DESK, a book on ritual, says that the lamb is given a handful of salt blessed by the priest  to eat to "cleanse" it and bring it to "perfection".

Well, of course in a purely physical sense, such a handful of salt does not make an animal physically "pure". It is only "pure" in some ritual, metaphysical sense, like the lamb for Yom Kippur had to be "without blemish". So again this goes back to the ancient Mosaic concept of ritual cleanliness of animal sacrifices.
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Volnutt on March 26, 2015, 08:58:42 PM
FROM THE PASTOR'S DESK, a book on ritual, says that the lamb is given a handful of salt blessed by the priest  to eat to "cleanse" it and bring it to "perfection".

Well, of course in a purely physical sense, such a handful of salt does not make an animal physically "pure". It is only "pure" in some ritual, metaphysical sense, like the lamb for Yom Kippur had to be "without blemish". So again this goes back to the ancient Mosaic concept of ritual cleanliness of animal sacrifices.

So when a chef says something along the lines of, "and now we add just a dash of pepper to make everything perfect," you think he's saying that the meat is now immaculate and free of all possible contaminants?

That's like saying that praying for those travelling during the litany makes it physically impossible for them to them to have an accident. Forgive me, but I think that you're being far too literal and maybe even lapsing into superstition.
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Volnutt on March 26, 2015, 09:00:21 PM
Alright, I'm confused.

A common occurrence when certain posters like to interject

Better an honest confusion than a misplaced certainty.

Don't kid yourself.  Fr. Thomas Hopko at least makes a lot more sense than you do, and does not like to just say things to stir the pot.

I find that a little pot stirring often keeps people honest.
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: minasoliman on March 26, 2015, 09:12:26 PM
Alright, I'm confused.

A common occurrence when certain posters like to interject

Better an honest confusion than a misplaced certainty.

Don't kid yourself.  Fr. Thomas Hopko at least makes a lot more sense than you do, and does not like to just say things to stir the pot.

I find that a little pot stirring often keeps people honest.
but is it done to keep people honest or just to enjoy the stir?  That's rhetorical.
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Volnutt on March 26, 2015, 09:30:12 PM
Alright, I'm confused.

A common occurrence when certain posters like to interject

Better an honest confusion than a misplaced certainty.

Don't kid yourself.  Fr. Thomas Hopko at least makes a lot more sense than you do, and does not like to just say things to stir the pot.

I find that a little pot stirring often keeps people honest.
but is it done to keep people honest or just to enjoy the stir?  That's rhetorical.

Are the two goals mutually exclusive? That's also rhetorical.
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: rakovsky on March 26, 2015, 09:46:57 PM
FROM THE PASTOR'S DESK, a book on ritual, says that the lamb is given a handful of salt blessed by the priest  to eat to "cleanse" it and bring it to "perfection".

Well, of course in a purely physical sense, such a handful of salt does not make an animal physically "pure". It is only "pure" in some ritual, metaphysical sense, like the lamb for Yom Kippur had to be "without blemish". So again this goes back to the ancient Mosaic concept of ritual cleanliness of animal sacrifices.

So when a chef says something along the lines of, "and now we add just a dash of pepper to make everything perfect," you think he's saying that the meat is now immaculate and free of all possible contaminants?

That's like saying that praying for those travelling during the litany makes it physically impossible for them to them to have an accident. Forgive me, but I think that you're being far too literal and maybe even lapsing into superstition.

I am not saying that it's wrong or bad, but that this is one more example of how Madagh is at best a carry over from ancient Judaism. Perhaps this even makes it unique or interesting. I am not trying to hate on the Armenians, bro.

The chef adds pepper because in a physical sense the dish is better in taste with a dash of it. The Madagh however has the idea of a spiritually cleaner sacrifice, in line with the idea in OT Judaism of using an unblemished lamb.

The chef might also be talking about perfection in an exaggerated, artistic, lighthearted sense. However, i did not get that sense about the madagh when reading FROM THE PASTOR'S DESK. There would be no need to make the salt cleansing part of the "BOOK OF RITUAL OF THE ARMENIAN CHURCH" if it was just for lightheardness and did not have any spiritual meaning.
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: minasoliman on March 26, 2015, 09:56:18 PM
Alright, I'm confused.

A common occurrence when certain posters like to interject

Better an honest confusion than a misplaced certainty.

Don't kid yourself.  Fr. Thomas Hopko at least makes a lot more sense than you do, and does not like to just say things to stir the pot.

I find that a little pot stirring often keeps people honest.
but is it done to keep people honest or just to enjoy the stir?  That's rhetorical.

Are the two goals mutually exclusive? That's also rhetorical.
if both, that's like saying I enjoy seeing death and saving lives of others. Even if it ends up for the better, it would disturbing enough that it's both
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Mor Ephrem on March 26, 2015, 09:57:04 PM
FROM THE PASTOR'S DESK, a book on ritual, says that the lamb is given a handful of salt blessed by the priest  to eat to "cleanse" it and bring it to "perfection".

Well, of course in a purely physical sense, such a handful of salt does not make an animal physically "pure". It is only "pure" in some ritual, metaphysical sense, like the lamb for Yom Kippur had to be "without blemish". So again this goes back to the ancient Mosaic concept of ritual cleanliness of animal sacrifices.

So when a chef says something along the lines of, "and now we add just a dash of pepper to make everything perfect," you think he's saying that the meat is now immaculate and free of all possible contaminants?

That's like saying that praying for those travelling during the litany makes it physically impossible for them to them to have an accident. Forgive me, but I think that you're being far too literal and maybe even lapsing into superstition.

I am not saying that it's wrong or bad, but that this is one more example of how Madagh is at best a carry over from ancient Judaism. Perhaps this even makes it unique or interesting. I am not trying to hate on the Armenians, bro.

The chef adds pepper because in a physical sense the dish is better in taste with a dash of it. The Madagh however has the idea of a spiritually cleaner sacrifice, in line with the idea in OT Judaism of using an unblemished lamb.

The chef might also be talking about perfection in an exaggerated, artistic, lighthearted sense. However, i did not get that sense about the madagh when reading FROM THE PASTOR'S DESK. There would be no need to make the salt cleansing part of the "BOOK OF RITUAL OF THE ARMENIAN CHURCH" if it was just for lightheardness and did not have any spiritual meaning.

Der voghormya...
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Aram on March 26, 2015, 10:49:18 PM
I'll say it: I have no idea what's going on here.
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Salpy on March 26, 2015, 11:27:52 PM
Rakovsky doesn't like Madagh.
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: orthonorm on March 26, 2015, 11:29:23 PM
Alright, I'm confused.

A common occurrence when certain posters like to interject

Better an honest confusion than a misplaced certainty.

Don't kid yourself.  Fr. Thomas Hopko at least makes a lot more sense than you do, and does not like to just say things to stir the pot.

If you don't think he enjoyed stirring the pot, you didn't know the dear Father as well as I. Not sure why you bring him up though.
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: minasoliman on March 26, 2015, 11:40:06 PM
Because that's his saying.
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: wgw on March 27, 2015, 12:04:11 AM
I think the Madagh as its been described is a beautiful cusrom, a holy custom, and I'm delighted that my initial view that it was some heterodox local custom the Hierarchs were trying to stamp out - was proven false.

As described the Madagh sounds essentially like the Agape meals served in Coptic parishes, or the meals served in Syriac Orthodox churches by the relatives of the deceased after a memorial is served for them in the liturgy.  In short a beautiful and most pious tradition worthy of respect and admiration.
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Volnutt on March 27, 2015, 12:38:24 AM
Alright, I'm confused.

A common occurrence when certain posters like to interject

Better an honest confusion than a misplaced certainty.

Don't kid yourself.  Fr. Thomas Hopko at least makes a lot more sense than you do, and does not like to just say things to stir the pot.

I find that a little pot stirring often keeps people honest.
but is it done to keep people honest or just to enjoy the stir?  That's rhetorical.

Are the two goals mutually exclusive? That's also rhetorical.
if both, that's like saying I enjoy seeing death and saving lives of others. Even if it ends up for the better, it would disturbing enough that it's both

If you think a lack of happy-clappy easy answers where nobody has to examine the assumptions they bring to the table is the same thing as dying, I'm not sure what to tell you. ???
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Volnutt on March 27, 2015, 12:44:27 AM
FROM THE PASTOR'S DESK, a book on ritual, says that the lamb is given a handful of salt blessed by the priest  to eat to "cleanse" it and bring it to "perfection".

Well, of course in a purely physical sense, such a handful of salt does not make an animal physically "pure". It is only "pure" in some ritual, metaphysical sense, like the lamb for Yom Kippur had to be "without blemish". So again this goes back to the ancient Mosaic concept of ritual cleanliness of animal sacrifices.

So when a chef says something along the lines of, "and now we add just a dash of pepper to make everything perfect," you think he's saying that the meat is now immaculate and free of all possible contaminants?

That's like saying that praying for those travelling during the litany makes it physically impossible for them to them to have an accident. Forgive me, but I think that you're being far too literal and maybe even lapsing into superstition.

I am not saying that it's wrong or bad, but that this is one more example of how Madagh is at best a carry over from ancient Judaism. Perhaps this even makes it unique or interesting. I am not trying to hate on the Armenians, bro.


Ok. It's just you seem a little fixated on this issue.

The chef adds pepper because in a physical sense the dish is better in taste with a dash of it. The Madagh however has the idea of a spiritually cleaner sacrifice, in line with the idea in OT Judaism of using an unblemished lamb.

The chef might also be talking about perfection in an exaggerated, artistic, lighthearted sense. However, i did not get that sense about the madagh when reading FROM THE PASTOR'S DESK. There would be no need to make the salt cleansing part of the "BOOK OF RITUAL OF THE ARMENIAN CHURCH" if it was just for lightheardness and did not have any spiritual meaning.

You don't know many chefs, do you? The ones I've known take their craft very seriously. Something doesn't have to be at all "lighthearted" in order to employ large doses of hyperbole. Just look at the Akathist to the Theotokos "Oh ONLY pure. ONLY blessed one."

I still maintain that it's kind of an uncharitable reading to say that the Armenians can't distinguish between Old Testament ritual purity and the simple blessing of an object- which, again, the EO do all the time.
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: minasoliman on March 27, 2015, 01:55:32 AM
If you think a lack of happy-clappy easy answers where nobody has to examine the assumptions they bring to the table is the same thing as dying, I'm not sure what to tell you. ???

You're right...it's an overreaction on my part.  Sorry for the off-track remarks.

Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Volnutt on March 27, 2015, 01:57:51 AM
If you think a lack of happy-clappy easy answers where nobody has to examine the assumptions they bring to the table is the same thing as dying, I'm not sure what to tell you. ???

You're right...it's an overreaction on my part.  Sorry for the off-track remarks.

If I can't forgive someone for the occasional overreaction then I'm the king of all hypocrites lol. It's fine, man. :)
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Aram on March 27, 2015, 02:38:24 AM
I think the Madagh as its been described is a beautiful cusrom, a holy custom, and I'm delighted that my initial view that it was some heterodox local custom the Hierarchs were trying to stamp out - was proven false.

As described the Madagh sounds essentially like the Agape meals served in Coptic parishes, or the meals served in Syriac Orthodox churches by the relatives of the deceased after a memorial is served for them in the liturgy.  In short a beautiful and most pious tradition worthy of respect and admiration.
Can we have our own customs without everything being compared to every other church, as if parallels are necessary?
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: wgw on March 27, 2015, 04:16:22 AM
Yes of course.

I am going to confess now: I go to a Coptic church.  My mother and I agonized about whether to go EO or OO.  But we went the Oriental route due to the liturgical diversity and the very severe continual persecution; the EO have also been persecuted heavily and we love them immensely.  I was for a time in an area with no Oriental parish and went to an Eastern one.

But right now I go to a Coptic parish.  I only have experience with the Coptic and Syriac parishes, but it seemed to me that your Madagh tradition was similiar to these others.  And I love finding commonalities between the Oriental Orthodox churches, and also between the OO and EO; I pray for their eventual reconciliation in full; also the Assyrians for that matter, although that's a steeper hill to climb.  I was afraid of ostracism on this board by EO members if I declared myself to be OO but it seems my deep interest in the Oriental churches caused by my membership therein has caused more problems on account of my concealing my identity.  And I am in no respect ashamed to be Oriental Orthodox; I am only ashamed of ,y lack of piety compared to my brethren, Eastern and Oriental alike.

I have only a little experience with the Armenian and Ethiopian churches but desire more. 

I do have a great love for the Byzantine liturgy; I use an Agpeya as my prayer book but I routinely read Akathists and other Byzamtine hymns, and am working on composing an Akathist in honor of the Apocalypse.  I also support the Western Rite parishes rhat the Byzamtine and I believe the Malankara Orthodox churches have.  I believe we need unity in the face of a resurgent militant atheism and the horrors of ISIL.  But I also respect our unique tradirions and the suffering that has occurred due to schism.

So that's who I am and why I care.  Please accept me as your brother in Christ, and recite with me "Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal One, Who Wast Crucified for Us, Have Mercy on Us."  And forgive me for an annoyance I may have caused you; I have only love and respect for the Armenian church and I believe her Divine Liturgy is the cleanest and most elegant, being a blend of Byzantine and Syriac influence, and of St. James and St. Basil.  However there are no Armenian churches close to me, or Syriac or Ethiopian, but there is a Coptic church ten minutes away with a loving priest and a great bookstore.  I do have a fantastic translation of the Badarak in rich ecclesiastical English that dates from the 1930s I believe, and translations of all the Hours.  What I lack are translations of the other sacramental services, the seasonal propers (contained I believe in a book you call The Directory, similiar, correct me if I'm wrong, to the Byzantine Typikon), and also the 12 ancient anaphoras also in Classical Armenian which are no longer used in the Armenian church.
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: orthonorm on March 27, 2015, 01:59:26 PM
Because that's his saying.

I forgot you study medicine. As brilliant as Fr. Tom was and is, this construct neither was his creation, nor used by him so often by that I hear it when I think of him.

Stirring pot, that we would explicit admit to in just those words.

Oh well.
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: minasoliman on March 27, 2015, 02:45:52 PM
Because that's his saying.

I forgot you study medicine. As brilliant as Fr. Tom was and is, this construct neither was his creation, nor used by him so often by that I hear it when I think of him.

Stirring pot, that we would explicit admit to in just those words.

Oh well.

Like I said, I'm sorry I overreacted.
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Salpy on March 27, 2015, 09:18:25 PM
Yes of course.

I am going to confess now: I go to a Coptic church.  My mother and I agonized about whether to go EO or OO.  But we went the Oriental route due to the liturgical diversity and the very severe continual persecution; the EO have also been persecuted heavily and we love them immensely.  I was for a time in an area with no Oriental parish and went to an Eastern one.

But right now I go to a Coptic parish.  I only have experience with the Coptic and Syriac parishes, but it seemed to me that your Madagh tradition was similiar to these others.  And I love finding commonalities between the Oriental Orthodox churches, and also between the OO and EO; I pray for their eventual reconciliation in full; also the Assyrians for that matter, although that's a steeper hill to climb.  I was afraid of ostracism on this board by EO members if I declared myself to be OO but it seems my deep interest in the Oriental churches caused by my membership therein has caused more problems on account of my concealing my identity.  And I am in no respect ashamed to be Oriental Orthodox; I am only ashamed of ,y lack of piety compared to my brethren, Eastern and Oriental alike.

I have only a little experience with the Armenian and Ethiopian churches but desire more. 

I do have a great love for the Byzantine liturgy; I use an Agpeya as my prayer book but I routinely read Akathists and other Byzamtine hymns, and am working on composing an Akathist in honor of the Apocalypse.  I also support the Western Rite parishes rhat the Byzamtine and I believe the Malankara Orthodox churches have.  I believe we need unity in the face of a resurgent militant atheism and the horrors of ISIL.  But I also respect our unique tradirions and the suffering that has occurred due to schism.

So that's who I am and why I care.  Please accept me as your brother in Christ, and recite with me "Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal One, Who Wast Crucified for Us, Have Mercy on Us."  And forgive me for an annoyance I may have caused you; I have only love and respect for the Armenian church and I believe her Divine Liturgy is the cleanest and most elegant, being a blend of Byzantine and Syriac influence, and of St. James and St. Basil.  However there are no Armenian churches close to me, or Syriac or Ethiopian, but there is a Coptic church ten minutes away with a loving priest and a great bookstore.  I do have a fantastic translation of the Badarak in rich ecclesiastical English that dates from the 1930s I believe, and translations of all the Hours.  What I lack are translations of the other sacramental services, the seasonal propers (contained I believe in a book you call The Directory, similiar, correct me if I'm wrong, to the Byzantine Typikon), and also the 12 ancient anaphoras also in Classical Armenian which are no longer used in the Armenian church.

Thanks for letting us know that you are OO.  While disclosing your jurisdiction is not required, it does help people understand where you are coming from with your point of view.   :)
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: ialmisry on May 07, 2015, 12:01:43 PM
What's the significance of displaying the head?

Inquiring minds want to know.

(http://d.radow.eu/religionsrituale/pic/armenia-ritual-sacrifice.jpg)

Rakovsky,

I think this is the second or third time you've brought up the Armenian tradition of Madagh here or in the private forum.  It's been explained to you more than once, and I think in the private forum Isa brought up an instance where he saw a similar custom among Chalcedonian Arabs in the Middle East.  If you or others still have issues with Armenians blessing their meat before they eat it, or issues with the fact that outside the Western World meat doesn't come neatly packaged in cellophane at a supermarket, but rather requires the slaughter of an animal, then perhaps you can look for one of the old Madagh threads and resurrect it.  I'm not saying this as a mod, but as a poster who just doesn't want to see this thread get derailed.  Thanks.   :)
In seminary, a local priest I was assigned to told me an amusing story about how a family insisted that he sacrifice a lamb and smear the blood on a sick baby.  He refused, and asked another clergyman from the 'Old Country' about it, and he confirmed it was a common practice.  With half the parish threatening to leave the church if he didn't, he relented with no little remorse.

A few days later, he was at the church praying, and waiting for the family to bring the lamb in from a farm in the countryside.  The cars pulled up, and all he heard was lamenting.  When he came out, he found the lamb was already dead: it had jumped out of the window of the station wagon when someone rolled it down due to the overpowering smell of lamb poop in the car.  A passing truck 'sacrificed' the lamb.

The priest considered himself the most blessed man on the Eastern seaboard.  He talked them into some Holy Unction.  The child recovered.  All was made well with the world.

Meanwhile, we can all be glad that our Confession rite does not involve chickens: http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/884421.shtml (http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/884421.shtml)

IIRC Fr. Girgis is Antiochian of the EO variety.
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Salpy on June 01, 2015, 01:05:38 AM
I saw my priest today and I remembered to ask him about butchers becoming priests.  He said that not only are butchers prohibited from entering a seminary, but also the son of a butcher can't enter a seminary.  I didn't ask him for a citation for a canon or anything, but he was very emphatic that this was the rule.
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Aram on June 01, 2015, 01:46:00 AM
I saw my priest today and I remembered to ask him about butchers becoming priests.  He said that not only are butchers prohibited from entering a seminary, but also the son of a butcher can't enter a seminary.  I didn't ask him for a citation for a canon or anything, but he was very emphatic that this was the rule.
I'm not immediately saying your priest is wrong, but I really find it hard to believe that this is ever followed. As I think about one of the deacons who mentored me, who just happens to be a semi-retired butcher...
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: hecma925 on June 01, 2015, 05:54:39 PM
I saw my priest today and I remembered to ask him about butchers becoming priests.  He said that not only are butchers prohibited from entering a seminary, but also the son of a butcher can't enter a seminary.  I didn't ask him for a citation for a canon or anything, but he was very emphatic that this was the rule.

So, no SOBs in seminary allowed?
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Salpy on June 01, 2015, 07:13:14 PM
No Sons of Butchers allowed in seminaries.   :)

Although, as noted above, the canon is probably not observed today.
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: biro on June 01, 2015, 08:14:04 PM
Wow, that's interesting. Is that because he might try to smuggle in beef chops, and monks don't eat meat?
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Salpy on June 01, 2015, 09:17:11 PM
I don't think so.   ;D

My priest explained it by saying that in the old days when there was a war, the soldiers who had been butchers in civilian life would be on the front lines because they knew how to kill.

I guess the Church didn't want priests who had experience with killing.
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Aram on June 01, 2015, 09:30:38 PM
Honestly, this is really sounding to me like something cultural instead of canonical, and maybe not even a widespread policy... I especially really fail to see how being the son of a butcher would be a canonical prohibition to the priesthood--much less receiving a seminary education.
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Alpo on June 07, 2015, 04:41:02 PM
I will be attending an Armenian liturgy on saturday. Being completely ignorant about Armenian rite or the language, is there anything I should know or pay attention to before and/or during the service?
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Salpy on June 08, 2015, 12:36:38 AM
Just watch what everyone else is doing and do the same.   :)

Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Alpo on June 13, 2015, 09:33:34 AM
It was today. Rather liked it despite not knowing the rite or the language. I must admit though that the unleavened bread looked a bit out of place.  :P No, I didn't took the communion myself but the seemed like a RC host.

Anyway, after the liturgy there was something that looked like similar to EO Chrismation. The weird thing was that the person  partook the Eucharist before this supposed Chrismation. Any idea that it might have been? Our secong guess that it might have been some kind of pre-marital blessing as he had his seemingly Armenian girlfriend with him. The guy himself looked like a Finn.
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Aram on June 13, 2015, 02:39:08 PM
It was today. Rather liked it despite not knowing the rite or the language. I must admit though that the unleavened bread looked a bit out of place.  :P No, I didn't took the communion myself but the seemed like a RC host.

Anyway, after the liturgy there was something that looked like similar to EO Chrismation. The weird thing was that the person  partook the Eucharist before this supposed Chrismation. Any idea that it might have been? Our secong guess that it might have been some kind of pre-marital blessing as he had his seemingly Armenian girlfriend with him. The guy himself looked like a Finn.
It's not like a RC host--it's not a hard cracker, but a soft, gummy disc.

You probably saw a betrothal service, which should (though isn't always) be performed separately from the marriage service, and is often done directly after a liturgy.
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Severian on September 10, 2015, 06:14:02 PM
Regarding attaching pieces of cloth to trees or bushes near holy places, it is true that it is a custom.  I've never heard, however, that it is to obtain "luck."  I've always interpreted it as a way to leave a little bit of yourself behind before leaving a place of pilgrimage.  I really don't know.  It's not an official teaching of the Church that people are supposed to do that sort of thing.  It's just really a custom or a "popular piety," as some people say.  I heard somewhere that it is one of those customs that goes back to pre-Christian times, and that it has pagan origins, but I can't say for sure.

My friends and I do it whenever we go to St. Antony Coptic Monastery in the Mojave desert in California.  Only we don't use cloth; we use dental floss.   :)  Once when we were doing it, one of the monks saw us.  He didn't say anything, but he gave us an odd look.  I guess Copts don't have that custom.   :)

Regarding the "sacrifice" of sheep, they are referring to something called "Madagh."  I don't know exactly how to translate that word into English, but I would not use "sacrifice," as it has the wrong connotations. 

Basically, it's a blessing service that is said over meat before it is eaten.  You do Madagh on special occasions, like a feast day, wedding or baptism.  It is lamb meat or mutton and it is not supposed to be spiced, except for salt which is specially blessed.  I know someone who was at St. Nerses Seminary and sometimes they would do a Madagh and take the meat over to a homeless shelter.

The "animal sacrifice" accusation comes in because in the Old Country you couldn't just go to the local supermarket and buy your meat all neatly wrapped in cellophane.  It came from an animal and you had to slaughter it before you could eat it.  In the old days, and I think they still do it this way in Armenia, prayers are said over the sheep before it is slaughtered. 

Folk customs have also developed which would probably turn off people from the West, such as brides and grooms stepping in the sheep's blood for good luck, etc.  This is an example of a local village folk custom though, not something the Church tells people to do. 

The priests themselves would not be actually slaughtering the animal, as I think priests are not supposed to ever kill anyone or anything, even an animal.  I've heard more than once that there is a canon saying that a butcher cannot become a priest.
 
Protestants will sometimes refer to Madagh in their polemics, accusing us of still offering animal sacrifices because we don't believe Christ's sacrifice on the cross was enough, etc.  None of that is true, however. 

Madagh is briefly explained here:

http://www.hyeetch.nareg.com.au/religion/feasts_p4.html#Madagh
It interesting to note that in the Coptic Orthodox Church, a believer must receive an absolution from a Priest before slaughtering an animal. Is this universal throughout OOy?
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Mor Ephrem on September 10, 2015, 06:20:49 PM
Not in India, anyway.  On my visits there, I am certain that the animals I ate at lunch were slaughtered by people who did not first go to church that morning.  :P
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: minasoliman on September 11, 2015, 12:58:19 AM
Regarding attaching pieces of cloth to trees or bushes near holy places, it is true that it is a custom.  I've never heard, however, that it is to obtain "luck."  I've always interpreted it as a way to leave a little bit of yourself behind before leaving a place of pilgrimage.  I really don't know.  It's not an official teaching of the Church that people are supposed to do that sort of thing.  It's just really a custom or a "popular piety," as some people say.  I heard somewhere that it is one of those customs that goes back to pre-Christian times, and that it has pagan origins, but I can't say for sure.

My friends and I do it whenever we go to St. Antony Coptic Monastery in the Mojave desert in California.  Only we don't use cloth; we use dental floss.   :)  Once when we were doing it, one of the monks saw us.  He didn't say anything, but he gave us an odd look.  I guess Copts don't have that custom.   :)

Regarding the "sacrifice" of sheep, they are referring to something called "Madagh."  I don't know exactly how to translate that word into English, but I would not use "sacrifice," as it has the wrong connotations. 

Basically, it's a blessing service that is said over meat before it is eaten.  You do Madagh on special occasions, like a feast day, wedding or baptism.  It is lamb meat or mutton and it is not supposed to be spiced, except for salt which is specially blessed.  I know someone who was at St. Nerses Seminary and sometimes they would do a Madagh and take the meat over to a homeless shelter.

The "animal sacrifice" accusation comes in because in the Old Country you couldn't just go to the local supermarket and buy your meat all neatly wrapped in cellophane.  It came from an animal and you had to slaughter it before you could eat it.  In the old days, and I think they still do it this way in Armenia, prayers are said over the sheep before it is slaughtered. 

Folk customs have also developed which would probably turn off people from the West, such as brides and grooms stepping in the sheep's blood for good luck, etc.  This is an example of a local village folk custom though, not something the Church tells people to do. 

The priests themselves would not be actually slaughtering the animal, as I think priests are not supposed to ever kill anyone or anything, even an animal.  I've heard more than once that there is a canon saying that a butcher cannot become a priest.
 
Protestants will sometimes refer to Madagh in their polemics, accusing us of still offering animal sacrifices because we don't believe Christ's sacrifice on the cross was enough, etc.  None of that is true, however. 

Madagh is briefly explained here:

http://www.hyeetch.nareg.com.au/religion/feasts_p4.html#Madagh
It interesting to note that in the Coptic Orthodox Church, a believer must receive an absolution from a Priest before slaughtering an animal. Is this universal throughout OOy?

That's news to me!
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: TheTrisagion on September 11, 2015, 10:00:28 AM
Regarding attaching pieces of cloth to trees or bushes near holy places, it is true that it is a custom.  I've never heard, however, that it is to obtain "luck."  I've always interpreted it as a way to leave a little bit of yourself behind before leaving a place of pilgrimage.  I really don't know.  It's not an official teaching of the Church that people are supposed to do that sort of thing.  It's just really a custom or a "popular piety," as some people say.  I heard somewhere that it is one of those customs that goes back to pre-Christian times, and that it has pagan origins, but I can't say for sure.

My friends and I do it whenever we go to St. Antony Coptic Monastery in the Mojave desert in California.  Only we don't use cloth; we use dental floss.   :)  Once when we were doing it, one of the monks saw us.  He didn't say anything, but he gave us an odd look.  I guess Copts don't have that custom.   :)

Regarding the "sacrifice" of sheep, they are referring to something called "Madagh."  I don't know exactly how to translate that word into English, but I would not use "sacrifice," as it has the wrong connotations. 

Basically, it's a blessing service that is said over meat before it is eaten.  You do Madagh on special occasions, like a feast day, wedding or baptism.  It is lamb meat or mutton and it is not supposed to be spiced, except for salt which is specially blessed.  I know someone who was at St. Nerses Seminary and sometimes they would do a Madagh and take the meat over to a homeless shelter.

The "animal sacrifice" accusation comes in because in the Old Country you couldn't just go to the local supermarket and buy your meat all neatly wrapped in cellophane.  It came from an animal and you had to slaughter it before you could eat it.  In the old days, and I think they still do it this way in Armenia, prayers are said over the sheep before it is slaughtered. 

Folk customs have also developed which would probably turn off people from the West, such as brides and grooms stepping in the sheep's blood for good luck, etc.  This is an example of a local village folk custom though, not something the Church tells people to do. 

The priests themselves would not be actually slaughtering the animal, as I think priests are not supposed to ever kill anyone or anything, even an animal.  I've heard more than once that there is a canon saying that a butcher cannot become a priest.
 
Protestants will sometimes refer to Madagh in their polemics, accusing us of still offering animal sacrifices because we don't believe Christ's sacrifice on the cross was enough, etc.  None of that is true, however. 

Madagh is briefly explained here:

http://www.hyeetch.nareg.com.au/religion/feasts_p4.html#Madagh
It interesting to note that in the Coptic Orthodox Church, a believer must receive an absolution from a Priest before slaughtering an animal. Is this universal throughout OOy?
How about swatting flies?
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Salpy on September 14, 2015, 10:51:55 PM
Regarding attaching pieces of cloth to trees or bushes near holy places, it is true that it is a custom.  I've never heard, however, that it is to obtain "luck."  I've always interpreted it as a way to leave a little bit of yourself behind before leaving a place of pilgrimage.  I really don't know.  It's not an official teaching of the Church that people are supposed to do that sort of thing.  It's just really a custom or a "popular piety," as some people say.  I heard somewhere that it is one of those customs that goes back to pre-Christian times, and that it has pagan origins, but I can't say for sure.

My friends and I do it whenever we go to St. Antony Coptic Monastery in the Mojave desert in California.  Only we don't use cloth; we use dental floss.   :)  Once when we were doing it, one of the monks saw us.  He didn't say anything, but he gave us an odd look.  I guess Copts don't have that custom.   :)

Regarding the "sacrifice" of sheep, they are referring to something called "Madagh."  I don't know exactly how to translate that word into English, but I would not use "sacrifice," as it has the wrong connotations. 

Basically, it's a blessing service that is said over meat before it is eaten.  You do Madagh on special occasions, like a feast day, wedding or baptism.  It is lamb meat or mutton and it is not supposed to be spiced, except for salt which is specially blessed.  I know someone who was at St. Nerses Seminary and sometimes they would do a Madagh and take the meat over to a homeless shelter.

The "animal sacrifice" accusation comes in because in the Old Country you couldn't just go to the local supermarket and buy your meat all neatly wrapped in cellophane.  It came from an animal and you had to slaughter it before you could eat it.  In the old days, and I think they still do it this way in Armenia, prayers are said over the sheep before it is slaughtered. 

Folk customs have also developed which would probably turn off people from the West, such as brides and grooms stepping in the sheep's blood for good luck, etc.  This is an example of a local village folk custom though, not something the Church tells people to do. 

The priests themselves would not be actually slaughtering the animal, as I think priests are not supposed to ever kill anyone or anything, even an animal.  I've heard more than once that there is a canon saying that a butcher cannot become a priest.
 
Protestants will sometimes refer to Madagh in their polemics, accusing us of still offering animal sacrifices because we don't believe Christ's sacrifice on the cross was enough, etc.  None of that is true, however. 

Madagh is briefly explained here:

http://www.hyeetch.nareg.com.au/religion/feasts_p4.html#Madagh
It interesting to note that in the Coptic Orthodox Church, a believer must receive an absolution from a Priest before slaughtering an animal. Is this universal throughout OOy?

I never heard of that before.  Interesting, though.
Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: Salpy on November 06, 2015, 02:52:22 AM
Article about madagh in Los Angeles:

http://touch.latimes.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-84938986/

Title: Re: Question about Armenian traditions
Post by: rakovsky on November 06, 2015, 11:05:42 AM
Article about madagh in Los Angeles:

http://touch.latimes.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-84938986/
That article (Titled "After bizarre freeway sign death, a spotlight on misunderstood church tradition of 'sacrifice'") was written as a follow up to this one:
http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-animal-sacrifice-freeway-sign-death-20151105-story.html

Something seems perhaps "off" to me about the two articles themselves. I think the newspaper might have written the second one to smoothe over any potential misunderstanding the first article had about the Madagh. For example, the first article was titled "Lamb sacrifice performed for man days before he was ejected onto freeway sign", and perhaps the second one was meant to explain what that meant, because proposing a "lamb sacrifice" to a man's accident sounds like they are suggesting that the lamb sacrifice and accident were quirky and related to each other. What else was the point of mentioning the lamb sacrifice in the first article?

Memory Eternal to the Departed.