History and Culture
Traditions, culture and history are a part of modern life. The majority of the population still follows traditions received from their ancestors. Despite the fact that some traditions have been lost, there are many others which Georgians of all ages still preserve.
Traditions are connected with different aspects of life. First of all, feast-related traditions should be mentioned. The feast (“supra” in Georgian), which is an indispensable part of life for all Georgians, is a distinct phenomenon which attracts a lot of foreign interest.
Regardless of size or type, a supra is always led by a tamada, who makes the toasts during the feast. The tamada must supervise the feast skillfully, maintain order amongst the guests, propose the toasts in the correct order, avoid verbosity and alternate toasts with jokes or funny stories.
Feasting traditions are closely connected with Georgia’s history of making and drinking wine. Georgians have developed a culture of winemaking, and distinct methods of producing both table and dessert wines, over many centuries.
It is widely believed that Georgia is the birthplace of wine. The word “wine” is derived from the Georgian word for it, “gvino”. Georgians attach great significance to the production, storage and consumption of wine.
Traditionally essential issues were, and still are, discussed at feasts. The Georgian feast is necessarily accompanied by a structure of toasts: the tamada proposes toasts to the motherland, parents, friendship, children, ancestors, the future etc.
There are certain rules of toastmaking. Only the tamada actually bestows the toasts, but any participant can propose one of their own with the permission of the tamada. In such instances the toast first made by the toastmaster must be continued, the one proposed by the guest must not deviate from its topic. A guest can also leave the feast with the permission of the tamada, but before they leave the toastmaster must pronounce a toast in their honour. One of the last toasts is to the tamada himself, to thank him for the perfect feast. The final toast is usually made to the saints, who guard and protect the participants of the feast, and to the hosts, to thank them for their hospitality and wish them good health and luck.
Georgian also has a tradition of polyphonic singing. Georgian folk music is very diverse. A Georgian feast is always accompanied by beautiful Georgian songs. Georgians are fond of singing. Georgian of all ages sing anytime, anyplace, anywhere.
Georgia is famous for its dances, which are part of its national cultural heritage. Each region of Georgia has its own way of dancing. The Sukhishvili Dance Ensemble, now called the Georgian National Ballet, is known worldwide.
There are traditions connected with births, christenings, weddings and funerals. The New Year is celebrated in a different way in each region of Georgia.
Family traditions are also very important. The family is considered to be the basis of the national well-being. Traditionally, members of several generations live together.
Georgians treat the elderly with great respect. That’s why there few elderly care homes in Georgia. If an elderly person has children and grandchildren they live with them, because it would be a great shame for the younger generation to abandon them. Other family members take care of an elderly person and create comfortable living conditions for them.
Caring for graves is another Georgian tradition. Georgians believe that a person is alive for as long as they are remembered, and so their grave is taken care of. An uncared-for grave is disrespect to the deceased.
One of the things Georgians are most proud of is their tradition of hospitality, which is passed from one generation to another. It is a great honour and a happy occurrence to receive a guest. Georgians try their best to provide them with a most comfortable and pleasant time.