Blogs

Georgian Christmas Traditions

22 Dec 2021

The holiday season is all about making memories! From decorating the tree to watching Christmas movies to mixing up holiday cocktails for a few friends, spending time together is the most precious gift you can share with anyone this holiday season.

Plus, establishing a tradition that’s unique to your family is something everyone will cherish in the years ahead. It’s a chance to think about what really matters to your family, and then to make it happen.

Maybe you already have fun holiday traditions that you share with your family every year. Or maybe it’s time to dust off some memories from your childhood and incorporate them into your own holiday celebrations.

Before that, we will introduce you to Georgian Christmas traditions for inspiration.

Christmas tree

1. Christmas in January

In Georgia, Christmas is celebrated on January 7 according to the Julian Calendar and it marks the end of the great fast. Believers usually meet Christmas in the church where special service is held and only afterwards they go and celebrate this day together with their family members and close people.

The Christmas Fasting is a preparation for the Christmas holiday. This tradition comes from a very early centuries and there are some historical sources from the 4-th century AD, which tell us, that people kept Christmas Fasting even until that period of time, however, then the Christmas Fastin was not for 40 days, but it was for about two weeks or twelve days or something like that.

2. Alilo Traditions

Alilo is another tradition in Georgia during Christmas. On the 7th, many people participate in a parade called an “Alilo”. They dress in costume and carry flags as they walk through the streets in celebration.

The Alilo participants symbolize the angels and the Zoroastrians who were the first to learn about the birth of Jesus. 

During the Alilo march, the participants sing Christmas carols and exchange gifts to mark Christmas. All the gifts, sweets and other things gathered during the day will be donated to charity.

Christmas tree
Christmas tree

3. Christmas pie 

The Christmas pie or as we call it Guruli pie or Guruli Ghvezeli is  a kind of Khachapuri, but  the filling is also prepared with some hard boiled eggs.

People usually prepare those Christmas Guruli Pie on Christmas eve and wait for the clock to strike 12. The recipe is pretty simple, they just use the yeast-based dough and the cheese and the hard boiled eggs for the filling and that’s it.

We prepare that amount of Christmas Guruli Ghvezelis how many people there are in the house.

4. Candle in the window

On Christmas Eve, believers have traditionally placed a burning candle in their windows. 

Displaying a burning candle in the window is a centuries-old tradition, Christians believe that by doing so, they invite Mother Mary and Christ to their families and, most importantly, into their hearts. 

Conventionally, at Christmas night, a single candle is lit in the window, with it symbolically pointing to Christ’s birth in each and every Georgian Orthodox Christian’s heart.

Christmas tree

Activities to do in Autumn in Georgia

  • Explore Tbilisi on foot
  • Attend "Rtveli" in Kakheti
  • Drive through the mountains
  • Enjoy velvet season on the black sea

Autumn in Tbilisi is short but pronounced. The trees along the riverside and in the city’s parks turn shades of bronze and chestnut, while the hills take on a honey-colored glow. This is the perfect time to get out and explore on foot.

In early fall, there are numerous outdoor events – markets, live music performances, and the like – happening almost every weekend. Add to that special festival, seasonal produce, and the Rtveli wine harvest, and there’s no doubt in my mind these are Tbilisi’s golden days.

Mountains are beautiful anytime, and we always remind you of multiple shades of green, as you travel there in summer, but autumn slowly brings more and more colors into this palette. Traditional purple and gold are just a few of them!

Batumi and the beaches along Georgia’s Black Sea coast reach peak levels in July and August, however, there is a short window where the crowds disperse and the conditions are still ideal for sunbathing and swimming. Locals call it the ‘Velvet Season’. 

The skies are blue and the water is warm in the middle and end of September. This is the most humid month of the year in western Georgia, so swimming is a welcome reprieve.

Autumn – grape harvesting season

Autumn in Georgia means one thing: Harvest time. Rtveli, AKA Georgia’s ‘fifth season, is the most festive, joyous time of the year in the country. Rtveli is a celebration in Georgia that celebrates the harvesting of wine and is considered one of the most critical events in the fall. It begins at the end of September and continues until around the middle of October.

Rtveli is a custom that dates back to ancient times and has been passed down through generations. This is when vintners reap the fruits of their labor and families head to their ancestral vineyards to collect grapes, top up their Qvevri, eat and toast, and enjoy the last days of summer sunshine.

Tbilisoba – the biggest event in Autumn

Tbilisoba is the biggest event on Georgia’s cultural calendar. This traditional ‘ day of’ festival is held in villages and mountain regions across the country throughout the summer months. In October, it’s Tbilisi’s turn!

Tbilisoba is a massive two-day event that celebrates the capital’s diversity and Georgian identity and heritage in general. People from the regions descend on Rike Park for a Gastronomic Festival, showcasing their best autumn produce, wine, and regional food specialties. Handicrafts such as feltwork and pottery are sold at pop-up markets.

Where to see autumn foliage in Georgia:

  • Sabaduri Forest & Tbilisi National Park
  • Ateni Gorge (near Gori)
  • Gombori Pass (between Tbilisi and Telavi)
  • Tsalka & Dashbashi Canyon (and the entire
  • Kvemo Kartli region)
  • Borjomi National Park (best from the end of October)
  • Shaori Lake & Racha (from the end of September in Upper Racha)
  • Bateti Lake
  • Lagodekhi National Park
  • Martvili & upper Samegrelo

Weather in Autumn in Georgia

A short answer to the question: “What is the weather like in Georgia country in autumn?” will be this: “Different”

Georgia is a small country, but extremely diverse in terms of relief and climate. In any season, especially in the off-season, the weather in one region differs dramatically from another one. It all depends on the relief, elevation, the presence of reservoirs in the area, wind, and dozens of other factors.

Also, don’t forget that Georgia is also a mountainous country. Although it is small, the climate varies greatly depending on where you are. The Caucasian ridge provides mild, comfortable weather throughout the country with often cold and snowy Novembers in the mountains.

More inspiring blog posts

Blogs
Summer in Georgia: Top things to do in Georgia in summer

Summer in Georgia: Top things to do in Georgia in summer

One of the things that distinguishes Georgia is its breathtaking natural scenery. Georgia is a country of diverse landscape, natural wonders, and unique richness. Georgia offers tremendous variety. You will find rivers and sea, mountains and cliffs, deserts and forests in different regions of Georgia. Hence, you can explore the national wonders for almost all four seasons of the year.

Read More

Blogs
Top 5 best Georgian views

Top 5 best Georgian views

One of the things that distinguishes Georgia is its breathtaking natural scenery. Georgia is a country of diverse landscape, natural wonders, and unique richness. Georgia offers tremendous variety. You will find rivers and sea, mountains and cliffs, deserts and forests in different regions of Georgia. Hence, you can explore the national wonders for almost all four seasons of the year.

Read More

We are crafting unforgettable travel moments for you

We'll help you discover the country's best adventures & experiences.