Sunday, October 13, 2013

Hye Krisdonya - հայ քրիստոնեայ

Marash Girl's father, who was born in Marash 100 years ago, a survivor of the genocide of the Armenian people, often commented that in the "old country", Armenians were not known or referred to by the term  "Armenian", but rather "Armenian Christian":  "Hye Krisdonya"  (հայ քրիստոնեայ).

Marash Girl herself had never heard the term, nor has she ever heard the expression to this day.  Was the term  "Hye Krisdonya"  (հայ քրիստոնեայ) used by Armenians referring to themselves as "Hye Krisdonya"  (հայ քրիստոնեայ) or was it members of the non-Armenian world that referred to Armenians as such; was it simply a descriptive term or was it a pejorative term foisted upon Armenians by a world antagonistic to Christianity; or, finally, did the term imply that there were Armenians who were Christian, and there were Armenians who were not . . . who practiced other religions.  

Marash Girl asked Marash Boy if he had ever heard the term.  He could not remember ever having heard the term.  Marash asked his older sister Ranek if she had ever heard the term.  Ranek thought for a moment and after a bit said, "Yes, my grandmother Tervant (who lived in Marash during the 19th Century) would use the term referring to a guest who had arrived at the house; when she would comment, "Hye Krisdonya", as a child, I just  assumed she meant, "He is an Armenian from Krisdonya."  

Marash Girl wrote to an acquaintance in Lebanon -- a young Armenian man -- and posed the question.  His email came back as follows:  "My grandmother was a Catholic Armenian who used to tell me that the Turks called Armenians Ermeniler for Apostolic Armenians and Katoliklar, Protestantlar for Catholic and Protestant Armenians."  

Or could "Hye Krisdonya" imply, as was suggested by a good friend, that If you're not a Christian, you don't get to be an Armenian!

Unfortunately, this still does not answer Marash Girl's question.  When and how and by whom was the term "Hye Krisdonya" used?  An answer, please?


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