People have different stereotypes about different subgroups. There are also stereotypes about Armenians and different communities within the Armenian nation. Now, a necessary disclaimer is that all stereotypes are wrong, they lead to unfair judgments, and therefore should never be taken seriously. So, covering this topic I decided to look at some funny Armenian stereotypes. Just for the fun of it. They do provide an interesting angle of how we Armenians view ourselves though.
What is a stereotype?
Simply put, stereotypes are generalizations about certain characteristics of a group. For example, “Germans drink a lot of beer”. This is a national stereotype. Sure, not all Germans drink a lot of beer. In fact, Germans don’t even make it into the top 3 nations in per capita beer consumption. But the world somehow decided to associate the German nation with beer consumption, so it’s just a stereotype.
There are stereotypes about different nationalities and Armenians are not an exception. Let’s see what the world thinks about Armenians.
What does the world think about Armenians?
Simply put, I don’t really think the world at large thinks about Armenia or Armenians at all. 🙂 We gotta admit that we’re a very small nation in the grand scheme of things. So, typically, people form the opinions, and consequently the stereotypes, about Armenians in specific countries with a large presence of the Armenian diaspora (Armenians living abroad). To generalize, I’d need to look primarily at opinions in countries like Russia, the USA, and France, where the largest number of Armenians of the diaspora reside.
Ok, speaking about the Armenian stereotypes… Let me start with the good ones. A lot of people think that Armenians are well-educated, entrepreneurial, and very friendly. The world knows Armenians as great chess players, people in technical professions, doctors. But we also have quite a large presence on the global stage of show business, music in particular, and media in general. Of course, the Kardashians are a controversial embodiment of our affinity for entrepreneurship and media. But, it is what it is. 🙂
Let’s go beyond the Kardashians for a second. I think the efforts of musicians like Serj Tankian (System of a Down) or Charles Aznavour have put Armenia on the global map in the world of media and entertainment . Composer Aram Khachaturyan is another great example. And, of course, Armenians will never fail to point out the Armenian root of Cher.
So, I think, all in all, it’s fair to say that the general stereotype about Armenians is that we are smart and we love being in the center of attention. Are we shallow a bit? Maybe! But you still love your Armenian friend, don’t you?
Some think that Armenians are noisy and loud. Some say that we have weird Armenian traditions. And I’d sign under that statement anytime! When you are in Armenia just pay attention to how people talk to each other – foreigners often think we argue with each other all the time, but that’s not the case – we just express ourselves in a very emotional manner. We also love our loud music and believe that we should share the positive energy it gives us with everyone. 🙂 Hence, you should not be surprised when you hear loud music coming from open car windows when you’re in Armenia.
Armenians, in general, tend to be quite savvy with money. I think this came from hundreds of years of instability in the regions where we lived, so we’re particularly good at saving and investing to ensure at least some stability for our families. This may result in some other cultures viewing Armenians as a bit too materialistic. Again, it’s just a stereotype that spins an actual cultural trait of prioritizing comfort and financial stability whenever we can reach it. So, don’t take it at face value.
At the same time, people know Armenians, especially those of LA (USA) for their lavish lifestyles, a bit like the Iranians in the USA. This is not surprising, considering the cultural proximity. Basically, we love having and spending money on ourselves, our families, and our friends. And if it’s done visibly – it doesn’t bother most Armenians.
What are funny Armenian stereotypes?
Armenia, being a mountainous country, has quite some distinct differences between the local communities of different regions. So, inevitably, at some point, the collective Armenian mind has picked up on these differences, and it resulted in many jokes and stereotypes.
Yes, we make jokes about our own regional communities. Beyond the idea that people living in the capital Yerevan are rude, materialistic, and incapable of just relaxing (a common stereotype about the residents of every capital city in the world), let’s look at some funny Armenian stereotypes about the residents of our regions. Some of it is outlined in the post on jokes about Armenians by Armenia Discovery. Let’s have a look at some common stereotypes.
Stereotypes about Gyumretsies
Gyumretsies are Armenians living in and around the second largest city in Armenia, Gyumri. Armenians believe they are very well-spoken, to the point that you gotta be careful with them, so that their exaggerations do not carry you away. Why is this so? The answer is in history. People from many different areas migrated to Gyumri throughout history, including from Van, Erzum, Karin, and Mush. Each of these groups brought some unique traits that inevitably led to a very vibrant culture of art, craft, self-expression, etc.
Another factor is that there have always been a lot of tradesmen in Gyumri. The phrase “Esti hamececk!” is something so particular for Gyumri. It means “come here”. This is how the Gyumri tradesmen invited people to their shops to sell goods. To engage in trade, Gyumri tradesmen had to be really witty and picturesque in their speeches. So, this is probably why there is a stereotype that they have a tendency to exaggerate their stories a bit.
Stereotypes about Aparantsies
Like Gyumretsies, Aparan residents are composed of migrants from the cities of Van, Mush, Alashkert, and Karin who escaped from the massacres of the Armenians during WW1 and settled here. Nowadays Aparan is a small town with a population of slightly over 5000, located about 50 km away from Yerevan.
For some strange reason, the general stereotype that is formed about people of this town among Armenians is that they’re extremely naive. Maybe it has something to do with Aparan being a very small town, in relatively close proximity to a large metropolis. So, the contrast against the shark-like behavior of the residents of the capital city just made their warm hearts stand out. I don’t know. But the fact is, in the past especially, Armenians shared a lot of jokes about the naivety of Aparantsies. Reddit has a whole section of jokes about them.
Stereotypes about Kiavartsies
Kiavar is a region near Lake Sevan. But when we think about Kiavartsies, we don’t automatically imagine well-tanned people on the beach. 🙂 In fact, two things come to our minds – vodka and potatoes.
Normally the weather is colder in this area of the country, and those from Kiavar are stereotyped as having some special affinity for spirits, like vodka, to keep work (I guess). The idea is that someone from Kiavar wouldn’t be boggled by the idea of having a shot of vodka early in the morning, just to “start their engine” and kick off the day. I don’t think this is entirely true. But that’s the stereotype!
Also, people grow potatoes in this region. It grows well in the rather cold climate of the area around the lake. And because of that Armenians easily associate Kyavartsies with potato and potato dishes.
In my own opinion, people in this region are some of the most hospitable among all Armenians. And people love their regional recipe for paklava (layered honey cake with walnuts). This cake is one of the best among all other regional versions. So, I definitely recommend visiting the region for their pakhlava and maybe some local vodka shots! 🙂
Stereotypes about Loretsies
Lory is a province (marz) of Armenia located in the country’s north. The general stereotype about Loretsies is that they are extremely kind and somewhat naïve. Funnily enough, one of my best friends is from the Lory region. He happens to be indeed the kindest person I’ve ever known.
Armenians believe that loretsies are very simple, calm, and good-hearted people. With limited resources but an abundance of amazing nature, hey are the most “Zen” Armenians you can ever meet. Kind-hearted, welcoming, and unpretentious… Loretsies might teach Yerevantsies a thing or two about how to enjoy life and treat people around you.
This was my overview of the most common Armenian stereotypes that I find funny. Remember, that stereotypes are never fair or actually useful. So, don’t ever take them seriously, and definitely don’t be guided by them. They are just for the sake of fun and possibly for learning a bit about the culture. And to learn more about the Armenian culture, check out some of the hidden gems of Armenia. You might also like my list of weird Armenian food. Discover the uniqueness of Armenia yourself and share your impressions with me on Twitter or Instagram with #ArmeniaTravelTips.
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