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.

“Shoba” (Christmas in Georgian) is even called differently in different regions of Georgia.

In Samegrelo, for example, this holiday is called “The Evening of Christ”, in Racha and Lower Svaneti – “Chantloba”, in Upper Svaneti – “Shobi” (Christmas), in Kartli – “Christ Christmas Eve”, and in Mtiuleti – “Thiloba “(” Time Nuts “). Gurians, called Christmas – “Kalanda”.

Christmas tradition “Alilo”

On the eve of the night, a solemn service begins in all the churches of Georgia. Catholicos-Patriarch of  Georgia Ilya II will hold a festive liturgy in the Tbilisi Holy Trinity Cathedral. And in the morning the Christmas service turns into something resembling a carnival procession. Here this event is called “Alilo” – from the Hebrew word “Hallelujah,” that is, praising God. This is a beautiful parade in honor of the birth of baby Jesus, in which the entire city participates. In Georgia, the tradition of “Alilo” has existed since time immemorial.

Previously, during this Christmas procession, a group of men went around the house with the song “Alilo” and congratulated everyone on Christmas. The festive procession was headed by Makharobeli (“messenger of joy” – Georgian). The hostesses greeted him on the threshold and presented him with fruits, sweets, bread, eggs. After centuries, the role of men gradually passed on to children. Today they march in front of the procession, well-dressed and with wreaths on their heads, symbolizing angels. They are followed by young people with shepherd’s staff in their hands, in Svan fluffy hats and wearing sheep’s clothing. They personify the shepherds who came to the born Savior. After all, according to the Gospel, they were the first to know about the birth of God’s son and spread the good news to people.

Other participants “Alilo” – in white praschenitsy with red crosses – carry icons, banners and lamps. All those participating in the procession sing a special hymn – “Alilo”, which is performed exclusively on this holiday. Ahead of the procession follows an arba on oxen, and in it are large baskets that collect donations for the needy, for orphanages and shelters – sweets, fruit, toys. Around the crowd of people in dresses and carol costumes. People sing, dance and play musical instruments. Anyone can join the festive procession “Alilo”. This is truly an unforgettable and impressive sight!

As for gastronomic delights, at Christmas a fantastic variety of dishes awaits guests and residents of Georgia, since different dishes are prepared for this holiday in different parts of the country.

In Imereti, Guria and Samegrelo – at Christmas they cook Satsivi, boil Elarji – corn porridge with sulugun, make Gozinaki (roasted nuts in honey) and, of course, a pig with adzhika.

In the western  Georgia, special attention is paid to the pledge of sweet life – delicacies. Among them are especially popular honey, various nuts and dried fruits. Besides them, the Christmas table here is never complete without a pumpkin in a sweet syrup.

In Kakheti for Christmas they love to bake sweet pies – Kada. Previously, at Christmas, they especially liked to cook pork legs and head, as well as kebabs and Mujuji (Georgian pork jelly).

In Pshavi and Khevsureti it is impossible to imagine Christmas without Khinkali. Moreover, on Christmas holidays in Khevsureti it is customary to drive Georgian chacha and brew beer.

Across Georgia, hostesses bake Kverebi festive pies in the form of Christmas characters. In Kartli, such holiday cakes are distributed at Christmas not only to family members, but also to livestock and animals.

In Svaneti, they do not meet Christmas without slaughtering a pig. On the Christmas table there should be such dishes as Kubdari (meat pies), Khachapuri, Pkhlovani (pkhali pies), and Petvra – this is a kind of khachapuri, in which earlier, by the way, chopped cannabis seeds were added along with other ingredients. Today, this pleasure replaces millet!

In Guria, Christmas cakes are baked with cheese and coarsely chopped boiled eggs – Guruli. And in Adzharia, baklava and Achma (a type of multi-layered khachapuri) are considered traditional Christmas dishes.

But despite the many traditions of their own originality, all Georgian nationalities are particularly keen on the Christmas holiday.

An example of this is a rather beautiful custom: on Christmas Eve, in every Georgian house, a candle from the church lights up on the window. This is done so that the light of its burning was visible from the street to all passersby. This tradition is intended to recall the distant biblical events, when Joseph and Mary, wandering, sought shelter for the birth of their son. More than two millennia have passed since then, and hundreds of little lights still flicker in Georgia on that night as a sign of hope that the Mother of God will bestow grace on the house.

At Christmas, all believers in Georgia remember the wonders of that memorable night, lit by the blessed light of the Bethlehem star. Georgia has its own specific reason for mentioning Bethlehem: it was in this ancient city that the patron saint of Georgia was brought up – the Holy Great Martyr George. So no matter what side you take it, but the biblical story of the birth of Christ to the Georgians is very close.


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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.


Gudauri is one of the most popular ski resorts of Georgia. It is located at 2,196 meters above sea level, in Kazbegi Municipality, 120 km from Tbilisi. It takes around an hour and a half by car to get there. As a rule, the skiing season starts in December and lasts till April. The area is free from trees, so it’s a perfect place for free riders and snowboarders to hit the slopes. The resort has five lifts and the entire ski run is around 60 km long.

Gudauri is notable for its powder snow that is ideal for perfect skiing as well as picturesque views over the Caucasus Mountains. Gudauri is equipped with gondola as well as chair lifts. What gets the adrenalin flowing is the fact heli-skiing is also possible for extreme sport lovers. The highest skiing point is Mount Sadzele, at 3,307 meters above sea level. A cable railway operates from 10am to 4pm throughout the week for skiers on the various routes. On Friday and Saturday from 20:00 until 22:00 it’s possible to go night skiing on the first ski trail that is 1km long. A one day ski pass costs around 13 USD which is quite cheap compared with European ski resorts. There are luxury hotels as well as cozy guest houses with friendly hosts awaiting any budget traveler. The resort carters to all levels, from novice to experienced. There are several ski routes, including off-piste skiing and marked paths.

Around the ski area there are several dining spots where one can have a rest, enjoy delicious dishes, sample Georgian cuisine and drink aromatic mulled wine. You can also buy Georgian sweets, such as churchkhela (Georgian walnut candy often referred to as a giant snickers) tklapi (rolled-up candy made with fruit puree) and purchase traditional mountain wool socks, knitted by local women, as souvenirs. On the way back don’t forget to end your trip with some incredibly delicious Georgian dumplings, khinkali. The most popular spots where authentic, delicious and juicy dumplings with various fillings are served are Bulachauri or Pasanauri.



Bakuriani is yet another well-known Georgian ski resort that is equally popular during winter and summer seasons. The place is graced with pure clean air because of the rich coniferous forests of spruce trees. So apart from winter sports lovers, the place is suitable for a family vacation as well. Bakuriani is situated at 1,700 meters altitude, in the Borjomi District in the southern part of Georgia. It’s situated 180km from Tbilisi. The resort includes a variety of ski slopes making it perfect for all levels of skiers. Apart from skiing and snowboarding, one can enjoy ice skating, sledging, horse riding and other types of entertaining activities. The overall length of ski trails amounts to 29 kilometers. Kokhtagora mount is the most popular and highest mountain at 2,200 meters altitude. Night skiing is available on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 17:00 until 22:00.



Svaneti, once referred to as “Paradise Found” by a prominent National Geographic photographer, is notable not only for its amazing landscape and medieval monuments, but also for its two relatively new ski resorts. It is a remote highland, the highest inhabited area in Europe, where medieval towers meet modern infrastructure.

Tetnuldi ski resort is located 15km from Mestia, Svaneti’s main town, at an elevation of 2,260 and 3,165 meters. It offers 25km long slopes for skiers and snowboarders. The ski area includes four lifts and has the capacity to serve 4,100 visitors simultaneously. The resort is named after the gorgeous Mount Tetnuldi that is the 5th highest peak in Georgia. The ski season lasts from mid December to late March.



This magnificent region of Georgia that looks like a winter fairy tale boasts another great ski resort called Hatsvali (between 1800 and 2,450 meters altitude) that lies 8km from Mestia. 4.4km long slopes are available for skiing and snowboarding. The resort is equipped with two chairlifts that can serve 3000 passengers per hour. Working hours: 10:00 – 16:00 (till 18.00 in March-April).

Apart from skiing, tourists can experience the other pleasures of the Svaneti region such as sleeping in a medieval castle, tasting extremely delicious local meat pie Kubdari, going sightseeing, visiting cultural monuments and centuries-old stone churches as well as taking a tour of the Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography and getting an insight into centuries-old Svan culture and history.



Goderdzi mountain village is the newest ski resort in Georgia. It is situated at 2,000 meters altitude in Georgia’s western Adjara Region. It is 252km from Tbilisi and 109km from Batumi, the seaside capital of Georgia. Since the resort is close to the Black Sea and is characterized by the high level of precipitation it is considered the most snowy ski resort of Georgia. The resort is blanketed in snow from November to April. Here you will find 8km of slopes for skiing and snowboarding. The resort is equipped with two ski lifts; a gondola and chairlift.  The area is notable for its fresh, crisp air and breathtaking views. Skiing on snow-covered mountains dotted with log cabins where locals live is an incredible experience that you will never forget.

After some thrilling but often tiring skiing, you should recharge yourself with hearty dairy food from mountainous Adjarian cuisine. Sinori (cottage cheese with dough layers), “Borano”- (cheese in melted butter), “Iakhni” – (meat in walnut sauce) and “kaimaghi”- (special sour cream) should be on your must try list. The rural environment in combination with newest ski routes and infrastructure will make your holiday unforgettable. Also, you can easily get to the seaside within two hours by car and walk around the historic city of Batumi as well as enjoy the world-famous, boat-shaped cheese bread, “Adjaruli khachapuri”.


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