Not once but twice!

Christmas is celebrated on 7 January in Georgia (25 December on the Julian calendar) but because the tall person is English we also celebrate Christmas on 25 December.

In our house we celebrate twice!

We combine some of the European and Georgian Christmas traditions.

We have two Christmas trees, one Georgian and one European type tree.

The Georgian Christmas tree is called Chichilaki and is made of soft wood with curled branches that look like an old man’s beard.

Sometimes it is hazelnut branch which is carved into a Tree of Life shape and decorated with fruits and sweets.

The Western custom of a Christmas tree (nadzvis khe) is also popular.

We have one, which we decorated with ornaments, baubles and lights.

You can see one of the baubles is in the form of the Georgian flag.

On 7 January it is traditional to go on Alilo (a modified pronunciation of Alleluia), a mass walk in the streets, dressed in special clothing.

The Alilo tradition dates back to the 5-6th centuries.

Many children go on the Alilo march and are given sweets by grown ups.

The Alilo carols vary across different parts of Georgia but most use these words: “ოცდახუთსა დეკემბერსა, ქრისტე იშვა ბეთლემსაო'” – “on 25th December Christ was born in Bethlehem”.

The Georgian equivalent of “Santa Claus” is known as tovlis babua, meaning “Grandfather snow”.

According to legend he lives in the mountains of Svanetia in Georgia and has gray hair and a long beard.

He wears a white cloak called nabadi and a white mutton hat – papanaki.

Tovlis babua has to work especially hard this year because he has to come to our house not once but twice!