Meals and Feasts in Ancient Armenia

The following is an excerpt from p. 107 of Vardan Hatsuni’s book Meals and Feasts in Ancient Armenia (Venice, 1912; translation mine):

Ճաշ. The tripartite division of the day into morning, midday, and evening were linked in the Western world to three meals that went by various names. Among us, the latter two meals are familiar, but the first one is unrecorded, because hasty and irregular nourishment was very insignificant, especially in the absence of festivity. That is why [breakfast] is not recorded in our histories, because there was no cause to recall it. In fact, we may even be correct in doubting the existence of breakfast among our people, when we observe that a morning meal was not customary among the Jews and other Orientals. Let’s turn, then, to the other meals.

The word ճաշ is an Iranian borrowing, and is the root of our verbs Ճաշել and ճաշակել, which mean to eat, and the latter also to drink. Thus, ճաշն used to signify a meal at anytime. Mandakuni and Chrysostom(?) call «ճաշ» the meal of monks, which took place “at an untimely hour.” The latter also calls «Ճաշ» the dinner of monks. In the book of Nehemiah, there is an instance of «Ճաշ» that is translated as table:

“Furthermore, a hundred and fifty Jews and officials ate at my table («ճաշն»), as well as those who came to us from the surrounding nations.” 


Nehemiah 5:17 (Նէեմի 5:17)

And the two instances of «Ճաշ» in Esther are in the place of “banquet/drunkenness”:

“While they were still talking with him, the king’s eunuchs arrived and hurried Haman away to the banquet («Ճաշին») Esther had prepared.” 

Esther 6:14

“The king got up in a rage, left his wine («ճաշ») and went out into the palace garden. But Haman, realizing that the king had already decided his fate, stayed behind to beg Queen Esther for his life.” 


Esther 7:7

Yet «Ճաշն» in its narrower meaning signified lunch, as Tatevatsi correctly mentions: “a meal (կերակուր) until the 6th hour is called ճաշ”. There are many other examples of this idea… including this prominent one:

“When you give a luncheon («ճաշ») or dinner («ընթրիս»)…”


Luke 14:12 (Ղուկաս 14:12)

As when the great Nerses received Hayr mardpet, who had visited him during the daytime:

“The blessed patriarch Nerses ordered that a meal ճաշ») be prepared for those who had arrived.” 


Pavstos Buzand’s History of the Armenians (Volume 1)

And when the Bishop Xad had a meal prepared for his unexpected visitors:

“Bishop Xad prayed and healed the thieves’ eyes. He ordered that they wash and he placed a meal ճաշ») before them, and greatly gladdened them.”


Pavstos Buzand’s History of the Armenians (Volume 1)

As to the type of food that was customary [in ancient Armenia], nothing is attested in our manuscripts.


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