Lavash is not only bread, but also an element of culture, which has religious and cult significance in the life of Armenians. First of all, let’s understand where the name “lavash” came from. Lavash is an Armenian word derived directly in the process of preparation.
After the dough is rolled, it needs to be stretched well and opened. Hence the word originated: “lav kashats” (well stretched in Armenian) was changed to “lav kash”, and then the bread got its final name “lavash”.
According to tradition, bread was baked early in the morning and the fire in the toner was lit at dawn. The process of baking bread was accompanied by morning blessings and prayers. There were also special songs performed while baking lavash, which sang the taste of this bread.
It was an exclusively women’s activity, and women did not want men to enter the bakery while baking bread. This was considered a bad sign. Each woman had her own role, one cooked the dough, the other rolled it, the most experienced hit the lavash against the wall of toner.
The first lavash of toner was sent to the patient so that, after eating, he would come to his senses and gain strength.
In the olden days, Lavash was a companion and protector of soldiers during the war. Mothers baked lavash with their own hands, dried it and put it in a soldier’s backpack. Thanks to its long storage life, the lavash saved the soldier from hunger.
Armenians also had a tradition of throwing lavash on the bride’s shoulder, expecting that with the arrival of the bride, bread in the hearth would increase. At traditional Armenian weddings, this custom is observed to this day. Armenians believed that lavash also protected them from the evil eye, and therefore lavash was thrown not only on the shoulders of newlyweds, but also on newborns.
Armenian cuisine without lavash simply does not exist. Without reason the expression eat, lunch, breakfast, dinner in Armenian is replaced by one thing – “there is bread”.
In 2014, the Armenian lavash was included in the UNESCO intangible heritage list. Lavash was included in the UNESCO list for its feature of preparation, for its cultural and national significance.