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!

28 thoughts on “Not once but twice!

  1. What fun, getting to have Christmas twice. Do you get presents twice? And how nice that both traditions are kept by your family to enjoy. It is very interesting seeing the traditions of other countries. Thank you Bassa 🙂

  2. Wow Bassa!

    Christmas twice!!! You are one lucky girl! The Collies are now howling they want two Christmases too! So, we think we will celebrate Ellie’s coming home as another Christmas. 🙂

    We love learning about your country and its beautiful traditions!
    By the way, what do you want for your second Christmas?

    God Bless You!

    Chuck and the Collies 🙂

  3. That is awesome that you get to celebrate Christmas twice!

    I don’t think I could manage it, it is a lot of work for me. 🙂

    I love the Georgian tree, it is very pretty, is it a live tree or is it something you put away and take out the next year?

  4. Bassa you are so lucky having two Christmases, but I am lucky having a friend like you to tell me about all of your traditions. My person is curious since you put something in a different alphabet – does Georgia have it’s own unique language, or do several countries in the area speak the same language?

    • Thank you Bongo. Georgia does have it’s own unique language and alphabet. As you can see from the post it is very different. Almost all of the signs here are in Georgian, which the tall person cannot read so he has to be careful when he is out and about because it’s easy to get lost 🙂

  5. Oh, wow sweet Bassa you get to celebrate Christmas twice? Do you get gifts both times? You all have a Happy and Prosperous New Year. Hugs and nose kisses

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