Customs and Traditions of Georgia
Despite the fact that the official state language of Georgia is the Georgian language, the linguistic map of the country is quite colorful.
The Georgian language forms the basis of office work, literature, music and the media. However, to me, it is native only to 80% of the population of Georgia.
In the northern regions and in Abkhazia, which is not recognized by Tbilisi, the Abkhaz language takes place, standing in a separate language group. The same language is spoken in some northern regions of Georgia by a total of more than 100 thousand people.
On the border with Kabardino-Balkaria, in the region of Svaneti, there is a fairly large ethnic group that speaks the Svan language. According to the latest data, it is native to 30 thousand people, which by the standards of Georgia is quite a large number.
The largest linguistic minority in Georgia is Megrelian. It, according to the most conservative estimates, is spoken by more than 500 thousand people living in the western regions of Georgia and near the Black Sea coast.
Each of the languages of Georgia has at least one print media.
In Georgia, it is customary to speak Russian in large tourist areas, in hotels and resorts. The number of native speakers of the Russian language permanently residing in Georgia is sharply declining every year.
According to the census data, most of the Georgians identify themselves with the Orthodox branch of Christianity, namely the Georgian Orthodox Church. This is one of the oldest branches of Orthodoxy, finally established in these lands already in the 467th year.
According to Countryaah, the second place in the list of religions of modern Georgia is Islam. It is officially practiced by 10% of Georgian citizens. Mosques can be seen in Tbilisi and a number of large cities.
In third place in terms of the number of believers in Georgia is the Armenian Apostolic Church. There are about 250 thousand Armenians in Georgia, and almost all of them are parishioners of national churches.
There are few Catholics in Georgia – only 2% of the total population. There is a large parish of the Roman Catholic Church in Tbilisi, as well as the Armenian Catholic Church.
The smallest number of Jews in Georgia is only 13 thousand people, according to the latest data. Check agooddir for recent history of Georgia.
January 6-8 – Christmas
January 19 – Epiphany
March 3 – Mother’s Day
March 8 – International Women’s Day (not a day off since 1991)
April 9 – National Unity Day
April 15 – Love Day
May 9 – Victory Day
May 12 – Day of St. Andrew the First-Called
May 26 – Independence Day
July 16 – Gergetoba, or Day of Spiritual Love
August 28 – Assumption of the Virgin
October 14 – Mtskhetoba, or Day of veneration of the Robe of the Lord
November 23 – St. George’s Day
December 31 – January 1 – New Year
The main thing to remember about Georgians when going to their land is that they are one of the most hospitable peoples. This quality is cultivated from childhood, but the guest must also understand that the abuse of Georgian hospitality is tantamount to the greatest insult.
If you are visiting a Georgian house at the invitation of the hosts, do not forget gifts for each family member. For Georgians, the exchange of gifts is a ritual, and in return for a gift from a guest, it is also customary to give something. The thing should not be expensive, but it should be given from a pure heart.
According to the ancient laws of Georgian etiquette, any guest has the right to live in the master’s house for three days, and on the morning of the fourth day, politely ask how long he can stay as a guest.
A man in a traditional Georgian family is the head, protector and main source of income. Women historically were engaged in housekeeping and raising children; by the 20th century, with mass emancipation, these lines began to blur.
Until now, in Georgian families, there is a strong reverence for the elders in the family. If one of the parents is against the wedding of the newlyweds, then all preparations are curtailed.
Also, the Georgian groom is obliged to get along with the future mother-in-law. If quarrels break out between them before the wedding, the groom has the right to break off the engagement.
Bride kidnapping has turned from a romantic ritual into a vital necessity in modern Georgian society. According to traditions, if the bride was kidnapped before the wedding, then there will be no magnificent and expensive celebration, and the wedding is celebrated in a narrow family circle. Many families save a huge amount of money on such a national custom.
The feast in Georgia is the most important element of the national culture. It is customary to invite all close relatives and friends to any, even a minor holiday. Refusing an invitation to sit down at the festive table is the worst insult to the host.
A real Georgian toastmaster is either the owner of the feast, or a respected person chosen by the owner from among the guests. The duties of the toastmaster include pronouncing toasts and wishes to the audience. It is customary to listen to the toastmaster carefully, for a while, putting aside food, no matter how tasty it may be.
Toasts in the Georgian feast tradition are pronounced in the following order: a toast is a greeting to the assembled guests, then a toast should be made about the occasion of the holiday, after which a toast is obligatory for parents and ancestors, and a toast for peace in the family. Among the latter, there are toasts to the health of the toastmaster and the last obligatory toast – a glass to the glory of the patron saints.
As a rule, a foreigner’s guest at a traditional feast is always asked to pronounce Alaverdi – a return toast in gratitude to the hosts of the holiday.
Folk festivals in Georgia are never complete without music – the legendary choral singing here can be heard on any street in any city, including noisy and modern Tbilisi.
Of the traditional Georgian dances, three are the most famous: Kartuli, Khorumi and Arachuli.
The most popular dance thanks to Georgian films is kartuli. It is always performed in pairs by a man and a woman, who represent two lovers. This is a medium-tempo dance, but always performed to a dynamic folk melody.
Khorumi is performed by a large group of men dressed in national costumes. This is a military dance, which, according to the canon, must be performed by 40 dancers. In recent years, the canon is often broken, and at small events small groups dance, sometimes even without musical accompaniment.
Only an unmarried woman and an unmarried man have the right to dance arachuli. Many confuse it with lezginka, but this is a fundamentally wrong comparison.