Like most TLGers, I’m leaving Georgia during the school holiday. My host-family and Georgian friends tried to convince me to stay for the holiday season. They kind of succeeded, since I do feel sad about not experiencing the holidays in Georgia. From what they described, it seems that I, along with the rest of you who have left, will be missing out on a month of non-stop traditional celebrations. Below, I’ve included a very short list of what I’ve learned so far. I’m placed outside of Kutaisi, in Imereti, so I’m sure that there are plenty of other customs in the other regions that I haven’t heard of. Please include any omissions (or mistakes) in the comments!
- Barbaroba, December 17: Lobiani, lobiani, lobiani! On St. Barbara’s feast day, lobiani is traditionally made and served during supras. Before you can get to eating, you have to greet the mepekhe, or the first person to enter your home. He or she is supposed to bring treats and small gifts and wish your household luck, health, and prosperity. If you have a good or bad year, you can credit or blame your mepekhe!
- New Year, December 31: From what I’ve gathered, New Year’s Eve and Day traditions resemble celebrations in Anglophone countries. There are fireworks, champagne, and lots of food and sweets. Churchkhela is traditionally eaten for luck.
- Korkotoba, January 6: On the day before Christmas, pigs are traditionally slaughtered for the next day’s supra. There’s a great saying that stems from this day: კორკოტობას ღორი არ სუქდება (Pigs will not fatten up on Korkotoba day). Meaning, you can’t avoid doing something and put it off until the last minute. This saying can come in handy for students…
- Christmas, January 7: Like always, you can expect lots of supras and lots of food on Christmas day. Although Western Christmas fir-trees are trendy, Georgians traditionally have chichilaki, which are hazelnut tree branches that are shaved into a tree-shape and decorated with dried fruit and nuts. Originally a Guria tradition, the chichilaki are later burned for good luck.
- Old New Year, January 15: This is the New Year as observed by the Georgian Orthodox Church. For religious people, they can truly celebrate the new year without fasting restrictions. For everyone else, the festivities continue!
- Natlisgheba, January 19: The baptism of Jesus is observed on this day. It is also considered a special day for godparents (natlia) and godchildren, where each spoils the other.
….and then back to school!