I took a few pictures I like and have posted them below along with a piece written by Hoorig Santikian, describing an old Armenian tradition that occurs towards the end of the grape season....
"From the first time I took my first three steps without falling, I can remember celebrating the traditional Armenian occasion, Masarah, the harvest of the grapes. Because my extended and immediate family lives on vineyards in the outskirts of Fresno, Masarah is a perfect family tradition to celebrate our Armenian heritage and culture.
Awakening at the crack of dawn, we make our way down the rows of vineyards to find the sweet reward of hidden golden grapes. With the morning sun beating on my face and my sticky clothes clinging to my body, it feels as though time has stopped. At that moment, with the bucket at my foot and a bundle of luscious grapes in my hands, I feel as though I am holding the vibrant sensation of life.
To my right sits my grandmother under a tree, her face marked by a familiar express. The wrinkles on her forehead and the brown coloring of her skin reflect the years of tiredness and aching. Her eyes, however, sparkle with dignified pride and innocent happiness as she watches the future generations carry on the family tradition. Yes, my grandmother’s job is well done. She has imparted her knowledge and tradition to us and instilled it deep in our hearts.
My experience with the Masarah has shown me the importance of humble gratefulness and cultural appreciation. The Masarah is a profound part of my strong bond with my family and my deep respect for tradition. When I am eighty years of age, in the wake of modernization, I will hold the same antique cup and watch my children perform the ritual of the Masarah, as my grandmother does today. I will know that I have nourished a strong and loving family through age-old Armenian tradition."
-- Hoorig Santikian
The grapes are poured into burlap bags, along with the appropriate amount of lime powder, tied up and placed in a bathtub that has be reappropriated. Then, taking turns, 3-4 small children, or two of the older heftier ones ( like us) get into with bare feet and beging stomping on the grapes to crush out the juice which flows through a seive and into a bucket. It is a cathartic experience.
New traditions are added. This is after a family event and as such, it gets its unique spin.
For example, after experiencing a whole roast pig in Hawaii... Hoorig's father came home determined to roast a pig underground ever year during Masarah. So, he built the above pit out of concrete... the whole contraption with levers a pullys is a sight to see and definitely worth the trip.
This last image is of a "Khnotsi" a traditional
contraption built to make a drink called "taan" ( essentially whole plain yogurt and water)