Blog / How Georgians celebrate New Year and why they do it twice Georgia, Culture & History, Blog | 27.11.2018

How Georgians celebrate New Year and why they do it twice

New Year can be considered one of the most beloved and popular celebrations in Georgia. Hospitality, wonderful traditions, old culture and delicious cuisine, all of them create a wonderful synthesis. The celebration of this beautiful day in Georgia is presented at a family dinner, with a beautiful tree, and decorations are all part of the New Year holiday, while Christmas is strictly a religious celebration.

As the country is located between Europe and Asia, the mix of influences from the two continents has resulted in unique local traditions and customs – unlike what you find anywhere else: for example the fact that Georgians celebrate New Year twice.

On the 1st January, there is the first New Year celebration. And only two weeks later, still in the mood of New Year, we celebrate Old New Year on 14th January.

New Year 2018 in Tbilisi

Midnight is the Mekvle's time

According to the Julian calendar, the «true» New Year falls on this date and the Georgians are not the only ones who celebrate New Year on 14th January. It's true happiness to have more time and opportunity to share sincere and warm emotions with family and friends.

The holidays in Georgia start on 25th December. On New Year almost everyone meets his family at home and then goes out with friends. Mostly the people visit several places in one night. At midnight the family should be visited by the Mekvle. This is the person who is the first to congratulate on the New Year and bring in good fortune, health, and wealth. Everyone eagerly waits for this person to come through the door, after midnight, throwing candy and sweets. It means that all that year will be sweet and spent in harmony and peace.

Tasty dishes and way too much food

Probably the most important aspect of these celebrations is the Georgian «Supra». Nowhere else you will find tables containing such healthy and unhealthy food at the same time. Georgian food is always very natural, the whole variety of spices and ingredients tastes fantastic, but there is always way so much food at the Georgian «Supra». It is very easy to overeat there, though the way to this fullness is extremely delightful.

A Georgian table cannot be imagined without the main dishes which are first and foremost Satsivi. This is a Turkey with walnut sauce, the crown of the fest and one of the most delicious dishes you can try in Georgia. And there is Gozinaki, caramelized walnuts fried in boiled honey, cooled and cut into rhombus shapes. This is the reason why everybody waits until midnight because you cannot get a crunchy bite of this piece before the New year. At midnight, when the bell rings, everyone puts the Gozinaki into each other‘s mouth. This signifies: As you get old, may you be as sweet as this candy.

The Christmas tree and the «Chichilaki»

In addition to the common decoration of the New Year’s tree, the Georgians have their own special festive ornamentation called «Chichilaki»  – an alternative to the Christmas tree and crafted by hand from wood and decorated with sweets, fruits and nuts, as a symbol of fertility and fruitfulness.

Every year a new «Chichilaki» must be purchased and placed next to the Christmas tree. This tree is burned at the end of the holidays and takes away all the possible hardships.

Every region celebrates New Year on its own way. There are several activities on this special day. In Tbilisi, there are several concerts held outdoor in the center where everyone is welcomed to join and drink a glass of wine. Georgian bazaars and streets are joyful and full of colors.

Of course, it would be very unusual for Georgians to celebrate New Year without traditional singing. It is said that melodies, aromas, and tastes stick in the brain to bring back memories better than anything else. In Georgia, you can hear so many beautiful and original toast speeches, wishes and songs – especially around the two New Year celebrations.

Author: MyCaucasus
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