Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giorgoba & Georgian Holidays

So I've donated my iPhone, digital camera, and USB memory stick to the citizens of Georgia since I got here in mid-August; although the last two donations have come in the past ten days (Speaking of donations, remember to MOnate). I'd like to say that I'm abandoning all material possessions in order to live a fuller life (yes, I did just finish Walden, what of it?). But it makes it kind of hard to operate a blog without any photos and the ability to transfer those photos and the actual content onto the family computer from my own laptop. I need to get a USB chip because it's important for teaching and many other aspects, but I may be retreading some pictures for a while, because I don't get paid enough to be replacing cameras left and right.

But right now I don't have any way to transfer files from my own computer to the family computer (which is where the internet runs from). So this post will be short, filled with mistakes (more so than usual), and probably be more useless than my other thoughts. Nonetheless, given that it is Thanksgiving back home (Be ready for a Things I'm Thankful For post in the near future), I have a quick thought on Georgian holidays and how they are honored here. 

I'm really at a loss as to which holidays Georgians celebrate. Tuesday was Giorgoba (St. George's Day) and considering this country is named after him, I thought it would be a celebration of massive proportions. So I went to Kutaisi thinking I might as well be in a somewhat large city for this momentous day, and there was pretty much nothing going on. I went to two churches (one was crowded, the other not so much), walked around the city, and went to McDonalds. It really could have been any other day. 

My host family did nothing for the holiday, and most of my students didn't do anything as well. Tamari told me it's a bigger deal in East Georgia, which I guess is legitimate, but it seems like all the holidays are bigger deals in East Georgia (mainly Tbilisi) including Mariamoba (St. Maria's Day) and Svetitskhovloba (I'm not even really sure what this day was about, but we had school off and nobody did anything). 

I've been told that the real holidays are New Years, Christmas (which is on the 7th of January), and old New Years (the 14th of January) and that all three of those holidays turn January into one big month of suphras, gorging oneself, and drinking tons of wine. It also helps that there is no work to be done at that time and no school in session. This is all very convenient since I will not be here for any of those days (winter break). FML.

But I can't really complain about just a few days, as Georgians are constantly celebrating something that is not a national holiday (there is always a wedding, birthday, funeral, or anniversary of a death going on in your neighborhood). So maybe these random holidays are more or less just a chance for most Georgians to relax from celebrating the rest of the year.


  1. juuust one thing: Georgia is not named after St. George :D as i remember the name is derived from "Geo" which means land or something like that.

    and btw we have two Giorgobas :D one in november and one in may.

    >This is all very convenient since I will not be here for any of those days<<
    u're missing out! everyone being drunk for 14 days nonstop..:| just great! :|

  2. Nice observation :)

    Georgia is not named after St.George (even though I think even many Georgians think so). As you probably noticed it is not Georgian name of the country but rather international one. It was given by ancient Greeks way before anybody knew anything about saints or Christianity. And as noted it comes from the word Geo.

    Svetitskhovloba is naturally bigger deal in East Georgia because Svetitskhoveli is big cathedral in Mtskheta (near Tbilisi) hence for somebody living in Bandza or in any city, town or village in Western Georgia for that matter,it's just another free day.

    Regarding holidays in general, one should keep in mind that all Christian holidays appeared or reappeared just 20 years ago. In USSR religious holidays were big no-no! from the other hand days that were big thing in Soviet union are not celebrated now, since it would have been weird to celebrate day of Red revolution or Lenin's birthday. So holidays in modern Georgia does not have much tradition it appears and are pretty new for Georgians themselves.

    Big days are still as mentioned New Years, Christmas, Old New Years and Easter. Others are of less importance. There can be some shows or concerts in days like Independence day (25th of May), or Giorgoba but that's about it, no suphras or so. Besides as you see we do not need holiday to celebrate something :)

    By the way very nice blog, I have been reading it for a while now...

  3. Thank you all for the corrections. As previously stated, I'm not that smart, and everything I know about Georgia comes from my own experience, what other people tell me, and Wikipedia.

    I wish there was some sort of history book that I could read about Georgia, but it might be tough to find one in English (at least in Georgia).

    Thanks again for the help,