Georgia: a description of events, history, key dates
14th October: Mckhetoba-Svetitckhovloba
A big, if not a great spiritual feast is celebrated by Georgians on October 14. Its celebration based on a real miracle: the acquisition by Georgia the greatest relic – the tunic of the Lord, due to which was built the main temple of Georgia – Mtskheta Cathedral.
The legend of how already in the I century, two Jewish priests brought to Georgia the tunic of Jesus in which he was executed, know all the Georgians. And also the fact that on the burial place of the tunic rose up sacred cedar, which later began to stream myrrh and gave people healing of all ailments. People named the cedar “Life-giving pillar” (Mtskheta). At the beginning of IV century, the first king of Georgia – Mirian – decided to build a church on its place. Cedar was burned, but the trunk could not been moved.
St. Nino was the only one who could beg the blessing of the Lord, to move it. An invisible force lifted the trunk into the air and dropped into place, where soon grew up a wooden church. Pillars for the first church were carved from the same cedar. In the XI century the decayed church was replaced by the majestic Cathedral of Mtskheta, which is located today in the historic town of Mtskheta – ancient capital of Georgia. And the main celebration of the holiday Svetitshovloba of course, take place here, in the ancient land of Iberia. Inside the Svetitshoveli cathedral since the early morning begins solemn service, led by Patriarch of All Georgia. The majestic and dazzling surroundings of the cathedral, dressed in a gilded robe priests, the mystery rites – this spectacle is as beautiful as sacred, it attracts believers not only from all Georgia, but also from around the world.
After the festive service at the confluence of Aragvi and Kura rivers will be held mass christening of the people that has become a traditional part of holiday Svetitshovloba. On this day believers also visit the holy sites of Mtskheta: ancient monastery Dzhvari and ancient temples.
June 1: Ninooba
Ninooba – means in Georgian a great church holiday, dedicated to the day (June 1) of the arrival to Georgia of St. Nino, who converted the Georgians in the Christian faith. It happened at the beginning of IV century. St. Nino was born in Roman province of Cappadocia. After early adoption of Christianity, she went with her parents in Jerusalem to serve the Lord. There she learned the legend about the tunic of the Lord and began to pray for his finding.
According to legend, the Virgin, heeding the prayers of the girl, showed her the path in the Ibero valley, in order for her to carry the teachings of Christ in the new pagan land, and gave her a cross made of vine.
The relics of St. Nino are kept in the Bodbe (Kakheti) monastery. On the day of her advent here arrive crowds of pilgrims and in Tbilisi is held solemn festive service at Zion Cathedral. Here is also kept the greatest shrine – a cross made of vine, with which Nino baptized Georgia.
Also, every year at this time the believers organize the pilgrimage by the footsteps of Saint Nino, passing along the route Mtskheta – Bodbe.
14 May: Tamaroba
Let us look in to the annals of Georgian history, in times when Georgia was ruled by fair and wise queen Tamar. The reign of Tamar fell on the XII-XIII centuries. This time became the “golden age” of Georgia, the flourishing of enlightenment, peace, spirituality. The queen was able to unite under her reign the creeds – mountain dwellers, to reconcile the church with the state, has built hundreds of temples and monasteries, libraries, and was patron for poets, scholars as well as for ordinary people. The Georgian people today like many centuries ago worship and glorify the Queen Tamar. Church has elevated her to the rank of the saints. Day of her Remembrance Georgia celebrates on May 14.
Today, this day is a big national holiday. The main festivities take place in Tbilisi and in Akhaltsikhe, where was installed a monument in the memory of the crown-bearing lady.
23 November: St. George’s Day
St. George the Victorious, who stately sits on horseback, hitting a serpent, is the most beloved and revered Christian saint in Georgia. According to ancient legend, reverence of the memory of the beloved brother was bequeathed to the Georgians by St. Nino, who converted Georgia in the Christian faith. History of St. George dates back to the beginning of our era, the dawn of Christianity.
George served as a commander under Roman emperor Diocletian, and became the patron of all Christians who have suffered on violence and harassment. For this he was subjected to a terrible torture: he was committed to breaking on the wheel, when rotating the wheel brings into motion a set of knives and lances, which dig into the victim’s body.
Christian Church canonized St. George as the Great Martyr and Saint. But for Georgia, he became the patron and protector, and the day when he was broken on the wheel – November 23 – became big religious holiday in Georgia. On this day bells are ringing in all the churches. Believers pray to St. George for welfare, peace and health. In the Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi is held a solemn liturgy. November 23 in Georgia is a day off. The Georgians devote their leisure to themselves, their family, friends and relatives. On this day the tables are covered with a beautiful cloth, people celebrate, sing traditional Georgian songs.
March 8: International Women’s Day
Every woman wants to celebrate the 8th of March 8 in Georgia! Everyone knows how gallant Georgian men are. But on this day they endeavor especially, presenting their ladies compliments, flowers, gifts and, most importantly, so tender attention, that it would melt even the heart of the Snow Queen. The honorary title “Queen” on this day belongs to all women who gathered at the table for celebration. In the glasses sparkle amazing Georgian wine, everybody toast to the glory of feminine beauty, charm, wisdom … Speeches are getting longer, and been transformed into songs … In a word, a holiday that Georgian men present their women, is a real tale!
People in Georgia love their holidays and what is most important, know how to organize them so beautiful, delicious and joyfully, that you enjoy every minute of the festival, and then look forward to the next one.
The chain of celebrations is opened with the New Year. The world’s favorite holiday, in Georgia found its national traits and wonderful traditions. For example the main New Year’s attribute is the Christmas tree. In Georgia, in addition to the Christmas tree each family decorates chichilaki – a homemade wooden Christmas tree out of wood, the crown which replaces the wood chips. Chichilaki are decorated with dried fruit and traditionally burned after the New Year that, they believe that together with its smoke all troubles will be gone.
The New Year’s table in Georgia should be not just beautiful and richly covered, but literally burst with all sorts of dishes. Here you have satsivi, juicy pork, and spicy marinades, melting in your mouth khachapuri, several kinds of homemade cheese, and sweet churchhella. There are courses in Georgia, without which any New Year’s table can not do. They are roasted young pork that symbolizes wellbeing, honey gozinaki (roasted nuts), for life to be sweet as honey. In general, the more sweets on New Year’s table – the sweeter will be the year.
The main on the table is of course a wonderful wine that flows just like water this night to the clink of glasses and eloquent toasts. And of course, what a meal without songs and dances! Georgian multi-voice is the culmination of the holiday. And who knows who gets more fun: the audience or performers themselves, inspiredly singing out their vocals. Georgian dances… Hot like a hot Georgia sun, swift like mountain streams…
Right at midnight in the sky are flashing multicolored fireworks. Someone might say that this custom is quite modern but by the Georgians it has an ancient origin. They believe that every shot hits the evil spirit, and in the New Year good will conquer evil.
And there are a lot of such interesting Christmas traditions. Here is another very curious one. It’s called “Mekvle” and still popular in the Georgian villages. “Mekvle” – is the man who first crosses the threshold of the house in the New Year. He can bring both happiness and unhappiness. Villagers already know who are the people with “happy feet” and invite them into the house in advance, and those people present the hosts a basket with wine, sweets and boiled pork, wishing them happiness in the coming New Year.
March 3: Mother’s Day
Georgian women are so lucky! In March, they have two beautiful women’s holidays at once: Mother’s Day and International Women’s Day. The first holiday has been celebrated in the country recently, since 1991. For all the little history of this holiday it has fit very well into the calendar celebrations. On this spring day, the streets of cities are literally buried in flowers. They are sold at every step, and the demand still exceeds supply, because there is no one who doesn’t congratulate, mothers, grandmothers, wives on this day. The cult of the mother is sacred for Georgians. Tbilisi even has a huge statue symbolizing Motherland, Georgia … The Mother’s Day holiday spirit comes not only in every home, but in every city. In Tbilisi, for example, there are many interesting festivities: concerts, shows, charity events, folk festivals…
9 May: Victory Day
Every year on May 9, Georgia celebrates the date of the victory over fascism. In Tbilisi, the celebration takes place in Vake Park near the grave of Unknown Soldier. On this day from the morning in the park is playing brass band, on the summer stage couples are dancing, flowers are all around… It is as if nothing has changed since that memorable spring of 1945 …
Only the veterans are no longer young strong men, but grey-haired old men. From early in the morning does not stop the stream of people, who lay flowers at the foot of the memorial and eternal flame, and personally congratulate the veterans with a bunch of flowers. This holiday is dedicated to the heroes of the war, for them will be said warmest words, greetings and wishes, there are concerts, gala dinners.
26 May: Independence Day
Georgia became an independent State on Mar. 31, 1991. On that day on a referendum was announced about the country’s sovereignty. Nevertheless, the anniversary of Independence of Georgia is celebrated on May 26, on the day when Georgia first became a free state. It happened in 1918. By the time Georgia for almost a century was ruled by the Russian Empire. The new republic existed only 3 years, then became a part of the Soviet Union. Thereby, on the 31st of March was reaffirmed historical justice, and the main release date remained May 26.
The main state holiday in Georgia celebrated in a big way. Traditionally on this day takes place a solemn military parade and a grand gala concert. The military parade is held on the main street of Tbilisi – Rustaveli Avenue. In an orderly manner through the main artery of the ancient city of Colonia pass military columns: Thousands of military men of all types of troops. They are followed by more than 100 pieces of military equipment. And in the sky, dozens of aircraft trace intricate patterns.
No less spectacular is another event, taking place according to tradition, on the same day. This is a famous festival of flowers “Vardobistve”. On these days the famous Bridge of the world is transformed into a many-colored rainbow of flowers.
Also in the capital park Vake take place celebrations for the veterans. It is an action in the memory of those who put their life in the name of the country’s independence.
In the parks are held children’s activities and holidays, in the stadiums – sports matches and competitions.
The crown of all the celebrations is a grand concert in the historic part of town – Rica.
9 April: National Unity Day
This holiday can be considered as a forerunner of Georgian independence. It is with events of April 9 the idea of the sovereignty of the country has become stronger and found new forms of political struggle. On that tragic day, April 9, 1989 in Georgia were brought Soviet troops to suppress popular demonstrations, demanding to restore the independence of Georgia. As a result, 30 people were killed and more than 200 injured.
On this day the country remembers those who fell in the struggle for happiness and freedom of their native land. The temples are conducting civil services for the dead. In Tbilisi, on April 9 flowers and candles are brought to the victims memorial.
April 15: Love Day
No wonder that amorous Georgians have on their calendar two holidays of love.
Their own alternative to the world-renowned St. Valentine’s Day the Georgians thought up few years ago. The youth supported this idea, and now April 15 is the favorite holiday of all the young, loving happy couples. On that day they give each other flowers and gifts, arrange surprises and romantic evenings. In Tbilisi, on this beautiful day are held concerts (only love song), romantic shows and competitions…
16 July: Day of spiritual love
The day of love celebrated in Georgia by loving couples only, but the day of spiritual love is universal, because God loves us all! And for people to remember about this at least once a year (and, ideally, as often as possible), was established this bright holiday.
It was celebrated in Georgia since the beginning of time, but forgotten in the years of total atheism. Then it was revived only in the years of independence, thanks to the Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II. In Georgian holiday also called Gergetoba. In an especially big way it is celebrated in the town Gergeti.
Any traveler, in whatever country he would be, seeks to see it from the inside: national specifics, ethnic identity, family life and customs of ordinary people. Only then his journey will be completed, and experiences will be full and bright. To understand and see Georgia, it is enough to visit only one holiday – Rtveli. It is the time of collecting grape harvest, a holiday, when gathers the whole family. It means nothing that children grew up and went away from the father’s house. Everybody gathers for Rtveli. That is the law of the family and the family is sacred for Georgians. And it is really hard to imagine how a small company of three people collects grape. Rtveli means noise, laughter, songs, dances and jokes.
Here are men, in a big crowd returning from the vineyards. In their hands are huge baskets full of ripe, amber yellow bunch of grapes. Here begins a religious rite – the grapes will be pressed in large vats. Women at this time are cooking on the fire: there stands a vat with traditional dishes – the Tatars. It is a grape juice boiled with flour. From this sweet mass, women make famous churchkhela – a favorite delicacy of the Georgian kids – walnut kernel in grape candy. Incredibly delicious!
Table for Rtveli, which is set by the Georgian hostess, is truly miraculous..” Here collected together allGeorgian delicacies: aromatic kebabs,rich khinkali (Georgian dumplings), spicy satsivi, lobio and khachapuri, an abundance of greens, fresh vegetables and fruits! Wine flows like water. The head of the family first raises a toast: “For the motherland!” Until the evening do not cease beautiful speeches and melodious songs. And you feel so good, because tomorrow and the day after, the work will be in full swing, but then the whole family and numerous guests, who are always welcome, will gather again at the big table!
These two biggest Christian holidays are celebrated in Georgia since the beginning of time. Their forthcoming is always waited with a great desire. For every believer they mean new hopes and new developments. For Easter in Georgia, like in Russia, people bake cakes, paint eggs, sanctify them in the church. But Christmas is celebrated in Georgia differently. On the night before, all the churches in the country begin the solemn liturgy. In Tbilisi, it is held in the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, headed by the Catholicos-Patriarch. And after the service begins the most interesting and entertaining: festive parade “Alilo”. The believers and the priests themselves, walk down the street with church songs, carry icons, crosses and church banner high above their heads. Thus, they carry the good news about the birth of Christ. All who interested can join the procession, many, like true magicians, bring with them gifts, which are then distributed to orphanages and asylums. And on the Christmas night, candles light in every Georgian house. They especially placed near the window, so that the light was visible to passers-by. This tradition is observed in memory of distant events of the Bible, when Joseph and Mary sought shelter for giving birth to their son. Georgian Christmas has also its own culinary traditions. For this holiday Georgian women bake kvertsi – tasty Christmas cakes.