Courtesy of Shooshig Susan Avakian
Shooshig Susan Avakian, mom to Haroot, 17 months, and Daron, 5 months; Sunland, California
If you gaze often at a cute baby's picture when you're pregnant, your baby will look like him or her. That's an Armenian belief. While pregnant with Haroot, I spotted a photo of a beautiful baby in a cord-blood ad in a magazine at my ob-gyn's office. I ripped it out and put it on my night table so I would see it when I woke up. I wanted my son to have blue eyes and blond hair. I'm not sure if it was genes or the picture, but he does! My Armenian friends and family told me you don't need to do that when you're pregnant with your second child. Because you look at your first baby all day, your children will look alike. And my sons really do.
After a baby is born, Armenians don't take him out of the house for the first 40 days. Family members and friends come to you. After that, the child is of age and you bring him to church for the priest's blessing. I was able to keep Haroot home, but we barely made it to day 20 with my second. We had to go to the doctor and run errands, and it was difficult to be cooped up with a toddler. But we found a way to honor the tradition: We didn't take Daron to anyone else's home until after 40 days.
When Haroot got his first tooth, we had a ceremony called Agra Hadig. We placed him on the floor with symbolic items all around him: medicine, a spatula, a pencil, a book. We let him play for a bit. Then we poured cooled barley pearls onto a lace cloth held over his head. Whichever item he picked up after that would symbolize his future. He chose a tape measure, which we decided means he'll be an architect or engineer. Time will tell!