- Independent Journalism From Today's Armenia
 May 23, 2003 

Legend over Love: Old myths stymie matrimony during "bad" month

It's okay to plan a wedding in May, but many believe it's bad luck to marry in this month.

On typical weekends in the center of Yerevan the noise of blaring car horns circling Republic Square signal the joy of matrimony as young couples celebrate their wedding day.

The horns, however, haven't been heard for several weeks now. And it isn't because of the construction that has closed down the square.

It is because of the month. May, the "bad " month.

"In May we have few customers, it is very noticeable. It is a beautiful month, and it is surprising that people avoid getting married," says designer of Narcissus wedding salon, Arpi Hakobyan.

Yes, "avoid".

It is the peak of spring, of blossom and bloom of real and metaphorical sort, yet marriage vows are silenced in favor of superstition.

At Svetlana, one of Yervan's popular wedding salons, the proprietor says May is a dead month for the wedding business. Why?

"It is an old, primeval tradition that got into people's heads," says Svetlana Petrosyan. "And they believe that 'mayis' (May in Armenian) means 'vayis' (bad month). Every year we have no more than one couple."

Armenia's May wedding boycott is partly to blame on a phrase handed down by the Russians:

"Marrying in May means suffering your whole life," so the saying goes.

So with 11 other months to choose from, most Armenians simply save their nuptials for a month to which no slander has been attached.

Except they don't really have 11 other months. The Armenian Orthodox religion does not sanction weddings during the Church's Great Fast, for 50 days beginning in March.

Candidate of historical sciences Armine Stepanyan says that not celebrating weddings in May is connected with not celebrating them in spring in general. No weddings were celebrated during this period in Armenia, and this was peculiar to all ancient nations.

"People started celebrating weddings in autumn and continued the whole winter, till the great Fast," Stepanyan says, adding that they stopped for Fast and the remainder of spring.

Armenian Apostolic Church doesn't forbid marriage in May. Clergyman of the Church of Blessed Virgin, Father Yeghishe Karsyan says that this is a wrong tradition, which people follow senselessly and unconsciously.

"Wedding ceremony is not allowed during the Fast, but quite contrary takes place. In May, which is not a period of fast, nobody marries, but at the beginning of spring, when usually the Fast stops, marriages start too," says the clergyman.

So it would seem then that the blessing of the Armenian Church is not enough to counter the curse of a Russian legend, making streets a little quieter and priests and dressmakers and videographers and banquet halls and honeymoon suites a lot less busy during the "bad" month.

"I become terrified, when I recall May 28 of 1996," says 27-year old Marine Grigoryan. "My parents, against my will, had decided to celebrate my wedding on that day. My life did not go well. One year later my first son was born, but he died. In 1998 my second son was born, but I never felt amenities of home life."

After three years Marine got divorced. She got married for the second time, but again something went wrong. She blindly believed that the only reason of her bitter fate was getting married in May.

Her's is a deep-rooted if mis-guided fear, held by enough here to have an impact on businesses such as Petrosyan's.

The wedding planner no doubt would be happy to see the veil lifted on fear of commitment in May.

"Those get married in May who are free-thinkers and understand that May is the real month for weddings," she says. "Everything is blooming, including feelings. People at last feel good after long winter."

Still, it has been a very quiet May in the wedding halls of Armenia.

According to Agnes
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Click to enlarge.


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