Georgian Holidays

For those of you not working this week (and I know that’s most of you whether you’re pretending or not), or needing an escape from the family, or snowed in somewhere in the Northeast, here’s an exciting blog on how Georgians celebrate the holidays, none of which I’ve experienced yet—but no reason to let that stop me from pontificating I think.

The reason I haven’t experienced the holidays is that Georgians while largely Christian (Georgian Orthodox to be precise) don’t celebrate Christmas on December 25th. They celebrate on January 7th using the Julian Orthodox calendar, which is behind the Gregorian calendar. So I can’t update you on what happens Christmas day just yet.

When I asked people what, if anything, would happen on December 25th most said they do celebrate the day, a little, but the truth is I didn’t see any signs of that, other than:

  1. The holiday lights around town were up—they went up in early December.
  2. My host family put up their tree a few days before Christmas.
  3. My host mother gave me a little gift on Christmas Eve.
  4. The Italian restaurant we Americans tried to eat at Christmas night was closed, but only because it’s owned by an Italian. Everything else was open, including the pizza place where we eventually landed.
  5. Ahh…that’s it.

The holidays really started this week. Christmas caroling in English began, the roads to work in the morning were less crowded, an occasional firecracker could be heard (no need to worry Suriname, no world records will be broken from here), lots of sweets were passed around each day at work, people began coming late, leaving early, taking long breaks for lunch. Today someone actually asked why I was working. The truth: I wasn’t a whole lot.

Today everyone not on vacation gathered for champagne toasts and cookies and chocolate courtesy of the ministry. And tomorrow the women get the day off. Yeah, just the women—to cook. As much as it pains my feminist heart, I’ll be embracing that tradition and heading out of town to celebrate the New Year—by cooking. A grand feast with a Peace Corps volunteer. Maybe have some champagne. Maybe kill a pig, shoot a gun into the air—oh, sorry, that’s what we do in Miami. Here too, maybe. We’re all the same. Kumbaya.

That’s all I’ve got. Happy New Year to all, especially to those celebrating the proper way: on the sands of South Beach, full moon and fireworks exploding above the warm water, a plastic cup of Alex’s deadly sangria in hand. Yes, that was last year, but it will come again.

გილოცავ შობა-ახალ წელს

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