Tsarukyan celebrated the New Year in Nice

As the First Armenian News and Analyses reports Tsarukyan celebrated the New Year and Christmas in France, Nice.

When the speaker of the PAP Iveta Tonoyan was asked whether Tsarukyan will spend the old New Year in Nice too, she said that Tsarukyan celebrated the New Year abroad and has come back. She said she will not deliver any further information of the PAP leader because it is very personal information.

The Christmas message of Aram A. Catholicos. Bethlehem’s message – love is a service

Catholicos Aram A sent his Christmas message which particularly comprised the concept of love being a service. In his message the Catholicos particularly mentions that love is not simply a predicate of God, but the nature of the latter. God loved the man so much as to send his Son for the compensation of the sins people had as pagans. As God and his Son loved people, so people must love each other. Jesus Christ’s love is a service and this is the main concept of the Christian belief, aim and message. Christ sacrificed himself for the love he had towards people.

Love and service are interrelated and complement each other. With this message Christ served everyone, the rich, the poor, the wantons, the elderly and the children. The Son of God was born as a human being to serve as a presentation of God’s love towards people and died for people. This must be the message and the shift in life of each Christian – love turning to a service for each other, since no matter what people do towards each other, they do it towards God.

Catholicos referred to the political hardships the Armenians are facing today all over the world, particularly the Syrian Armenians who suffer from the civil war in Syria.
Catholicos Aram A. Concluded his message with blessing the Armenians and urged them to continue their efforts for the support of each other.

Today is the Memorial day of the departed

Today on the 7th of January is the day of the Memorial day of the departed. As always after the major feast days, the day following Christmas is a memorial to pay tribute to our loved departed ones.

After the holy mass in the churches the dirge will be delivered after which people visit the graves of their departed relatives. The Christmas celebrations end on January 13 when the baby Jesus Christ is consecrated to the church and the commemoration of the renaming happens.

Georgia: Where Feasting Traditions Are Movable. EURASIANET

Feasting and toasting have long been an integral part of Georgia’s cultural identity. But shifting priorities mean that Georgians are redefining the custom of banquets, known as supras.
“The à la fourchette (a quickie meal featuring cold cuts) is fighting against the supra … and I don’t know which one will win,” said sociologist Emzar Jgerenaia, director of the National Library’s Department of Science, Culture and Civil Education.

The faceoff is not about food alone. In a region awash with foreign influences, the supra (derived from the Georgian word for tablecloth) used to serve for many as a line of defense for Georgian identity.
The feast’s liturgy of dozens of toasts — presided over by a tamada, or toastmaster, and delivered in stylized Georgian — “represent strong oral traditions, histories,” which “saved” Georgian culture from centuries of invaders, commented 59-year-old geologist Vasili Tabagari, a tamada with 42 years of toasting experience.

“Willingly or not, you learn something,” he said wryly.
But over the past 21 years, since the Soviet Union’s collapse and Georgia’s reemergence as an independent country, the supra’s importance has been diminishing, according to sociologist Giorgi Nizharadze, a professor at Tbilisi’s Free University who has written about the practice.
“[I]t has slowly lost its function because … the threat toward the national identity has decreased,” Nizharadze continued. As a result, the tradition, he said, is “quite naturally changing.”
Georgian supras today are often “much more informal, and less structured,” with strict obedience to the tamada and the order of toasts (obligatory toasts include to the event itself, Georgia, peace, women, the dead and children) no longer expected.

In many urban centers, including Tbilisi, the Black Sea port city of Batumi and the parliamentary seat of Kutaisi, women may go to restaurants on their own for a supra without a male tamada, and toasts are sometimes made with beer — something that would have been considered sacrilegious a generation ago, Nizharadze elaborated.
But political and societal transformations are not the only influences that are producing changes in supra protocol; economic pressure, specifically the need to earn money amid the country’s ongoing financial doldrums, is also playing a role.
“I think that people can no longer sit for a long time at the table, and they don’t have time to lead a traditional life,” said Jgerenaia, the sociologist.
During the Soviet era, no one thought twice about taking time off work to attend a supra. These days, time is money, agreed Nizharadze.
Another factor is the cost: people are not necessarily able or eager to drop the cash needed to hold epic, hours-long feasts.

Before independence in 1991, wedding supras with 1,000 guests and funeral feasts so large that some participants didn’t know the deceased were not unknown. Many Georgians back then were able to afford such mega-bashes, and they offered a means to keep up with the neighbors, said tamada Tabagari.
Twenty-three-year-old economist Alexander Bluashvili agrees that young Georgians today view supras quite differently from their parents and grandparents. “The point is not to get drunk, or to sleep on the table,” Bluashvili said. “It is to talk, to have fun, to tell jokes and to encourage others to express their opinion.”

Rather than a tamada acting as “a dictator,” he said, the goal is to find a compromise between saying set toasts “every five minutes” and respecting the Georgian tradition of heartfelt expressions of feeling at gatherings of friends and family.
“We do not have to prove our identity anymore. We can create something new and we can innovate,” explained Bluashvili. “Tradition is not something that is static; it can be changed.”

Only in Georgia’s villages and regional towns has the more orthodox form of the supra (including the role of women as cooks and clean-up crew) remained largely unchanged, sociologists say; perhaps a reflection of residents’ need to assert their own “provincial identity,” reasoned Nizharadze.
For tamada Tabagari, though, the changes, whether in supra size or structure, present no threat to the Georgian supra itself. “It is evolving, but the traditions are not forgotten,” he asserted. “The core is still there.”

Molly Corso is a freelance journalist who also works as editor of Investor.ge, a monthly publication by the American Chamber of Commerce in Georgia.

Georgia marks Patriarch’s anniversary

Patriarchate of Georgia announced that a series of events will be held on Friday, January 4, in connection with the celebration of birthday and enthronement of the Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II.

As reported, at 12:30, the Patriarch will hold a festive service at the Sioni Cathedral. At 18:30 the State Philharmonic will host a concert in honor of the Patriarch, which will be attended by almost all the stars of the Georgian opera and pop music.

Today Ilia II celebrates his 80th anniversary.

Why was USAID health program halted in Armenia?

The US government decided to cease the HS-STAR health program. The program was being carried out by USAID health program. The three-years-old program initiated 2011 and had to be stopped on January 14 however the American side has decided to stop the financing already. Thus the program will cease on February 2013.

The program was aimed at the financing, government and human resource development problems in the country. According to some sources, the program ceased since the American side was dissatisfied with the results the program was giving.
The head of the HS-STAR program Gayane Gharabekyan told the ceasing of the program was the result of the cardinal changes in the program. To the question what would happen to the already initiated process of the initiative, Gharabekyan told there have been a lot of things done particularly in Gyumri, Vanadzor and Kapan, a lot of innovative medical devices were imported.

The press speaker of the Ministry of Health told the ministry estimated rather high the achievements.

Tax revenues have been increased in health sector: Minister

RA Health Minister Derenik Dumanyan, while participating in the governmental session, announced that in 2012 overall health care system paid services revenue taxes totaled 20 billion 93.3 million AMD and the number, compared to the same period in 2011, was increased by 28.2%.

According to Minister Dumanyan, those organizations which are under RA Ministry of Health, in January-October period have paid taxes amounted to 10 billion 540.1 million AMD, which is increased by 13.6%, compared to last year.
Dumanyan noted that the most part of the taxes was paid by Yerevan city’s medical organizations.

State Revenue Committee Deputy Chairman Armen Alaverdyan confirmed increase in tax revenues in the health sector.

There is a significant shadow in RA justice system

RA Minister of Justice Hrayr Tovmasyan today talked about justice sector and announced that 18% growth is recorded in Notary system, in “Official Informer” CJSC the growth is 1.2%, however, the indicators of Expertise Centre was decreased by 4.7 %.

According to him, for the preparation of the contract documents in Notary system the citizens pay for real estate agents or other intermediaries, and often these funds remain in the shadow.

“There is a shadow in advocate sector and serious examination must be done in order to figure out why the system is in shadow” said Minister Tovmasyan.
State Revenue Committee Deputy Chairman Armen Alaverdyan confirmed that overall tax revenues have been increased, however, he added that the reduction in the number of employees will impact negatively to our society.