Georgians are distinguished by ancient cultural characteristics and it is noteworthy, that New Year is a very precious holiday in Georgia. In any part of the country you can notice the festive mood and anticipation for this great holiday. Here is a list of the most authentic traditions:
Culinary & Celebrating
New Year's dishes play an important role in celebrating the event. ‘’ Supra’’, as locals call festive table is full of traditional Georgian food, such as appetizers mixed with spices, hot meat dishes and various pastries. For the main dish, you’ll find ‘’Satsivi’’, a fried turkey dish served in walnuts sauce. And finally, roasted nuts in honey, ‘’Gozinaki’’ which symbolizes sweet arrival of the New Year in every family. ‘’Tamada’’-toastmaster is in charge of leading this event, offers traditional toasts to invited guests and serves sparkling wine or any other type of alcohol. Usually, evening is accompanied by folk dances and songs to create much more national sense for celebration.
The tradition of decorating Christmas pine tree, Georgians started from the 18th century. Before time Georgians were decorating Chichilaki, a mens craft. Before New Year eve, a man cuts hazelnut tree branches and put them in the water. Then they are dried in front of a stove. It is repeatedly shaved with special knife all around and curly fronds attached at the top. It is more environmentally friendly than standard Christmas tree, as it is made only from pruned branches, leaving the hazelnut trees healthy and intact. Chichilaki is a symbol of sun and is identified with the tree of life.
The most important tradition of a New Year in Georgia is Mekvleoba and Mekvle – a Georgian word for the very first person, very first guest entering the family on a New Year’s night. There are numerous traditions of how to greet Mekvle – there are even special poems, songs and behavior of greeting. It is believed that the entire year’s luck, fortune, joy of the family, is depended on the kind-heartlessness of the Mekvle.