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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

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