"Tarehats" - Traditional Armenian New Year Bread
"Tarehats" (which means the “Bread of the Year” in Armenian), used to be baked all over the historic Armenia. Tradition of baking of the "Tarehats" (which was called differently in different Armenian provinces, as Tari, Darehatz, Krkeni, Dovlat, Gumpa, Michnak Loch, Michinki Kloch and so on) came to us from the Pagan times. Thousands of years ago, our ancestors baked this holiday bread for the New Year to please the Armenian Pagan Gods and Nature to have a healthy and wealthy year.
"Tarehats" is 20-35 cm round bread, and it is baked according to the number of family members, and a piece for each missing family member - someone on the trip, or gone to the other world. This bread is filled with nuts and dried fruits, and decorated with sesame seeds, and a bean or a coin is necessarily added to "Tarehats", which promises good luck and wealth to the one who gets it.
Very interesting is the following way of decorating the "Tarehats" - a reflection of the astronomical knowledge of our ancestors. Firstly, it is round, like our planet, the rim of dough on "Tarehats" symbolizes the rainbow, which Armenians called the belt of God. The 12 balls were added to the rim according to the number of months of the year, and the bread was divided into four parts by strips of dough, which meant the Four Seasons. In each part there is a luminary: the Sun, the Moon, the planet Jupiter and the constellation Ursa Major, and sesame seeds symbolized the stars.
"Tarehats" is baked from ordinary yeast bread dough. It should not be forgotten that this period falls on Lent before Christmas, so there is no butter or eggs in it. Dried fruits and nuts were added. Only the eldest woman in the family baked "Tarehats". When kneading the dough, she made it sure to turn to God, asking Him for a good fertile year, health for all family members, and a good partner for all unmarried members.
On the New Year's morning, the eldest woman in the household takes the "Tarehats" to the yard, faces the East and calls 3 times - “Dovlat, come back home!" (Dovlat is the name of the spirit of prosperity and wealth in Armenian mythology). Then the whole family gathers around the holiday table, the grandmother cuts the bread and serves it to all members of the family. Whoever gets the piece with the coin is believed to be granted good luck and wealth during the coming year!
To learn more about Armenia's food & drink, please visit the ARMENIAN CUISINE page