Armenia is a small country with the distinction of being the first to adopt Christianity as a state religion back in the early 4th century. This connection still plays an important role in Armenian weddings which are celebrated as a huge holiday traditionally celebrated for seven days and seven nights. For instance, traditionally the “God family” serves as witnesses at the wedding. What or who is a God family? It’s a couple who must be praiseworthy and looked up to. Usually, this is the married couple closest to the bride and groom, and the kavor “Godfather” is responsible for many of the wedding details and is expected to bring the most expensive wedding gift at a separate ceremony specifically for gift giving. This man is also responsible for guiding the couple in their life following the wedding.
|If the answer is yes, the groom presents the engagement ring.|
These days, that week-long celebration has become outdated, but many of the rich Armenian traditions are still intact. One of these traditions is the Khosk-Arnel” (asking for permission) which is the occasion that officially starts the engagement.
Here in the west we might call this an engagement party, but not what we would consider traditional. For in the Armenian tradition, this is the event where the groom’s parents officially meet the bride’s parents. But it more than that. It’s also the time the groom’s parents asked the bride’s parents for their daughter’s hand in marriage.
Let’s face it, this is a little risky if people don’t know each other, but if all goes according to plan and they said “yes”, the groom-to-be presents the engagement ring to his new fiancee. When she accepts the celebration begins with eating, drinking, and Armenian-style partying which includes a priest blessing the ring and the couple’s future plans.
Today this tradition is being replaced with the “Khosk-Kap” where the groom is the one to ask for the bride’s hand in marriage. In most cases, the groom makes his intentions clear to the bride’s immediate family before the Khosk-Kap, however, even this tradition has lost some of its popularity.
|Groom's family arrives with a flower arrangement and a box of chocolates.|
Modern Less-Formal Khosk-Arnel
A more modern take on this ritual is the less-formal Khosk-Arnel. This modern take on the engagement ceremony only includes the couple’s immediate family. The groom’s family is invited to the bride’s house for coffee (or tea) or dinner. They arrive with a flower arrangement and a box of chocolates. For this take on an Armenian engagement party, the groom asks the bride’s father for her hand in marriage.
All of these variations are ripe with elements that can be used to design a unique one-of-a-kind engagement party of your own.