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Baby is encouraged to select object at First Tooth celebration
Baby is encouraged to select object at Armenian First Tooth celebration Photo from video "Armenian First Tooth Ritual"

Armenian First Tooth

The centuries-old Armenian tradition agra hadig is celebrated worldwide by Armenians, no matter where they live -- Armenia, Turkey, Lebanon, Iran, or the U.S. Agra means "tooth," and hadig refers to a traditionally cooked wheat dish eaten on this occasion. The agra hadig celebrates the appearance of the baby's first tooth. The mother props the infant up on a table or on the floor and places five objects in front of the child; the first object the baby selects predicts his or her future occupation. Before the child makes the selection, its head is covered using a veil or a scarf, onto which some hadig is sprinkled to signify a wish for fruitfulness.

If the child picks up a book or a Bible, s/he will be a scholar, teacher, or clergyperson; if the child chooses money, s/he will become a banker, financier or wealthy person; if the baby selects a hammer, s/he will be in the building trades; a knife symbolizes a doctor a surgeon; and scissors foretell a life as a seamstress or tailor. In afternoon celebrations, only females attend and only sweet foods are served. When the party is held in the evening, males also attend, and a full Armenian buffet dinner is served. Although merriment prevails, underlying the gaiety is a genuine concern for the future well-being of the child, its social status and its economic prosperity. While the first tooth sets the timing for this divinatory event among Armenians, in other cultures, it frequently occurs when the child is one year old. Storytelling is an integral part of "first tooth" celebrations, and gifts are brought for the baby.

Project documentation includes a six-page report; a video in DVC format entitled "Armenian First Tooth Ritual," a book, Multicultural Celebrations, and 15 photographs extracted from the video.

Originally submitted by: Jim Rogan, Representative (27th District).



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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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