Holidays are an integral part of the culture and history of any country. In Georgia, a country with a rich history and culture, there is the abundant number of holidays and festivals. We will tell you about the most interesting and important state and national holidays in Georgia, about their history and traditions of the celebration, as well as provide information on public holiday days and red-letter days in 2019.

St. George’s Day – 23  November

St George’s Day, or Giorgoba, is celebrated on November 23 each year, in memory of the torture of St. George the Victorious during the reign of Emperor Diocletian in 303 BC. As one of the patrons of Georgia St. George is the most revered and honored saint and great martyr in Georgia. According to local belief, he was a relative of St. Nino, who turned Georgia into Christianity and bequeathed to her descendants to honor the memory of the great Martyr, who stood up for all Christians and as a result was subjected to a terrible death. Since ancient times, many churches that bear the name of St. George were built in Georgia. In the Middle Ages in different parts of Georgia, 365 chapels commemorating the name of St. George were built, just exactly as the number of days in a year.

This holiday is not only one of the most important religious Christian holidays in Georgia, but also equated to the public holidays, which means that the whole country is having a rest on this day. 23d of November is a non-working day in Georgia. In all the churches of the country, solemn liturgies are held, people celebrate this holiday with their families over richly covered tables where wine and toasts flow like water. But the luckiest ones are those with the name George: they get most of the attention and gifts in honor of their name-day.

St. George is honored among Catholics, Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox churches. According to the Eastern Orthodox tradition, he is depicted as part of the iconographic emblem as a rider on a horse slaying the dragon or snake. In Georgia, the image of St. George is embodied in the state coat of arms. The same motif is widespread in the religious paintings, icons, souvenirs and trinkets that can be found in almost every Georgian church.

Georgia’s Independence Day – 26  May

Holidays in GeorgiaGeorgia marks the celebration of the Independence Day on May, 26. The date is associated with the creation of the First Democratic Republic of Georgia in 1918. In the early 19th century Georgia became part of the vast Russian empire. After the Revolution of 1917, Georgia became an independent country and declared itself the Democratic Republic on May, 26 in 1918. In 1921,  became part of the Soviet Republic.
Georgia gained its independence for the second time after the collapse of the Soviet Union on April 9, 1991.  The Independence Day is brightly celebrated across the country with military parades, fireworks, concerts, fairs and official ceremonies.
The 9 April and 26 May are red-letter days in Georgia.

Mtskhetoba – Svetitskhovloba – 14 October

Georgian Orthodox Church celebrates the feast of Mtskhetoba-Svetitskhovloba – the ancient capital of Georgia and its legendary cathedral – on the 14th of October. The main hero of the celebration is the great Cathedral of Svetitskhoveli, built in the 4th century during the reign of King Mirian III, the first Christian ruler of Georgia, who was converted to Christianity through St. Nino – the preacher of the Christ doctrine.

The place for construction of the cathedral was not chosen randomly. Legend has it that on Mount Mtskheta, at the burial site of Saint Chiton, in which Jesus was executed, a sacred cedar had grown; it streamed with sacred myrrh which was healing people from diseases. The people called the cedar as “life-giving pillar” or Svetitskhoveli in Georgian. King Mirian III decided to build the first Georgian church at the place of the sacred cedar, and later the church took its name and was called from then on as Svetitskhoveli. Every year in the Cathedral of Svetitskhoveli a solemn liturgy with the participation of the Patriarch of All Georgia is held. After the worship, a mass baptism of people at the confluence of the Kura (Mtkvari) and Aragvi rivers takes place.

Mtskhetoba attracts people from all corners of Georgia. Tourists are very lucky to get to this festival, because Mtskheta – the ancient capital of Georgia – is transformed into one big happy holiday town, where folk dances, performances, contests, fairs replace each other.

New Year and Christmas – 31  December – 7 January

Tbilisi new yearNew Year is the most favorite secular holiday in Georgia, which is celebrated with gaiety and scope inherent only to the Georgians. The Georgians are one of the most hospitable people in the world, and it is easy to prove: on the New Year’s Eve every self-respecting host lays a table which is literally breaking from a variety of traditional dishes and viands. On a Georgian New Year table are necessarily present satsivi, khachapuri, lobio, roast suckling pig, homemade cheeses, pickles, gozinaki (nuts and honey) and churchhella. There is a sign that the more sweets will be on the table, the more successful will be the coming year.

In Georgia, there are a number of symbols and beliefs related to the New Year. Worldwide people decorate fir tree as a symbol of the New Year. Georgia is no exception: Tbilisi is brightly decorated with Christmas lights, Christmas trees, angels’ figures, Star of Bethlehem, palm branches, which symbolize the peace. However, in Georgia from through centuries there has been an interesting tradition to cut “chichilaki” from a walnut branch. “Chichilaki” is traditionally decorated with dried fruit, nuts and sweets, and then after the holidays is burnt. According to the belief, along with its smoke and ashes all the troubles and problems that have accumulated over the year fade away.

In Georgian families is widespread another tradition connected with the first guest called “mekvle”. It is believed that the first guest should be a kind and healthy person, preferably from among the close friends or relatives, and in this case, the year will be full of happiness and prosperity. Today “mekvle” is also associated with Santa Claus who brings gifts to children! New Year is celebrated in Georgia from the 31  December to 2  January.

The Georgian Orthodox Church celebrates the Christmas on the 7  January, as it is customary, for example, in Russia or Armenia. This is an important and solemn holiday for the country, as the Christianity to Georgia is not just a religion, but also the main component of its culture and history. On the day of the Nativity of the Lord in all the churches of the country are held solemn liturgies, the people go out to the streets and together with the priests sing church songs. These massive walks called “Alilo” play a central role in a unique celebration of Christmas in Georgia. Dressed as shepherds, marchers congratulate each other and raise money for charity.

The list of public holidays and days-off in Georgia in 2019

December, 31-January, 2 – New Year
January, 19 – Epiphany
March, 3- Mother’s Day
March, 8 – International Women’s Day
April, 9 – Day of Georgian Unity
April, 16 – Orthodox Easter
May, 9 – Victory Day
May, 12 – St. Andrew’s Day
May, 26 – Independence Day
August, 28 – Day of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
October, 14 – Mtskhetoba – Svetitskhovloba
November, 23 – St George’s Day

Christian faith

The Christian faith is an integral part of the Georgian culture and history. Different branches of art, such as architecture, literature, art and religious music – a unique church choral singing called Georgian polyphony, which can be heard only in the Georgian churches, have descended and developed exactly on the basis of Christianity. The proof of that are numerous ancient temples and churches with old icons and frescoes, which were built and created in Georgia with the adoption of Christianity and survived from time immemorial, attracting thousands of tourists from around the world. Today we want to tell you about the history of the adoption of Christianity in Georgia and introduce you with the main Christian ceremony -the sacrament of baptism in Georgia.

 The Adoption of Christianity in Georgia

Georgia is one of the first countries in the world, that adopted Christianity as the state religion. The adoption of Christianity in Georgia is widely associated with the name of St. Nino, thanks to which the teaching of Christ spread throughout the ancient Iberia. In 337 AD, during the reign of King Mirian III, Christianity was declared the state religion of Iberia, or Kartli as Georgia was called in ancient times.

Christmas in Georgia – as well as throughout the Christian world – is one of the most important and revered holidays of the year. Although in this country, perhaps, more than in any other, many original, interesting and beautiful traditions of celebrating Christmas have been noticed.

And the reason is obvious: Georgia is a real Klondike of original Georgian nationalities, each with its own original and beautiful customs. Therefore, the mysterious feast of the Nativity of Christ, which is celebrated in Georgia on the night of January 7, dazzles on this multi ethnic land with an enviable variety of traditions.

Gudauri ski resort is deservedly called the winter capital of Georgia. All the necessary conditions for quality and exciting winter holidays are created here. Gudauri is the newest and leading winter sports destination not only in Georgia but also throughout the entire Caucasus. While Bakuriani is more family orientated resort and is best suitable for beginners, Gudauri ski resort is a real paradise for professional athletes who want to experience the adrenaline of freeride, speedriding, heli-skiing, paragliding or just to enjoy a high-quality skiing and snowboarding.

The famous ski resort of Bakuriani is one of the most affordable and decent resorts in Georgia. Not inferior in quality to its European fellows, it is oriented for both fans of outdoor activities and professional athletes. Located just 2-2.5 hours drive from Tbilisi and Kutaisi, Bakuriani is an excellent place for relaxation, regardless of the season. Choosing Bakuriani, you can fully enjoy the crystal-clear mountain-pine air, which will have a curative effect on your body and thanks to well-developed infrastructure and a wide range of entertainments your stay will be remembered for a long time! Cableways, ski jumps, ski slopes, cross-country skiing, horse rides, horse-drawn sleighs and snowmobiles, quad biking, paragliding and helicopters, bars, a bowling alley and spa facilities: all of the above-mentioned entertainments can be found in Bakuriani.

Winter is a special season in Georgia with locals and foreigners awaiting its arrival with equal enthusiasm. Yes, this cold period of the year is associated with snow, hot drinks, Christmas, presents and of course winter holidays. And now, with the development of tourism industry in Georgia, the country has a number of winter resorts to offer holidaymakers, skiers and snowboarders. Each mountainous region of Georgia has its own unique conditions, nature and landscape. So, before you plan your winter vacation, let us introduce Georgia’s ski resorts so you can choose where to best spend your leisure time.

New Year and Christmas are special celebrations in Georgia that are marked with great preparation and equal enthusiasm.

First New Year is celebrated in Georgia on December 31st and then it is followed by Christmas that is marked on January 7th. The preparation process for the New Year starts around 2 weeks earlier, the city is decorated and illuminated with Christmas lights, special fairs are organized at various places in the cities, while citizens flock to the shopping centers and market to buy presents for the loved ones and get all the necessary products to lay the New Year table in accordance to the traditions.