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.

The Georgian language and alphabet

Georgia is a small country, but thanks to its culture, history and language it occupies a special place in global civilization.  For example, there are only 14 alphabets in the world, and the Georgian alphabet is one of them.

Georgian script is one of the most ancient scripts in the world. The evidence of this is the inscriptions found on top of the “kvevri” (large clay vessels which are submerged in the ground) and “satsnakheli” (wine presses) which were discovered in the wine cellar of a pagan temple in the village of Nekresi in Eastern Georgia. These inscriptions date back to the I-II centuries.

The oldest known Georgian literary work, “The Martirdom of Shushanik”, was written in 476 – 483 AD by Iakob Tsurtaveli.  Bolnisi’s Sioni Church in Eastern Georgia also contains one of the oldest (493 AD) inscriptions in Georgian.

Georgian Language

Most who live in Georgia are ethnic Georgians who speak Georgian as their mother tongue. Georgian is the official language of Georgia, a literary language and the liturgical language of the Georgian Orthodox Church.

Georgian is one of the richest languages in the world. More than five million people living in Georgia and abroad speak Georgian.

The Georgian alphabet consists of 33 letters: 28 consonants and five vowels. In Georgian a very rich and diverse literature has been created:  fiction, scientific, original and translated, etc. For many centuries Georgian was the language of culture, not only for Georgians but for other ethnic groups living in the Caucasus.

Georgian is the only language in the world which has remained an official, literary and liturgical language for fifteen centuries. The Georgian language is the cornerstone of Georgia’s culture, national consciousness and national identity.

Georgian is regarded as being amongst the five most difficult languages in the world to learn.

Due to its geopolitical location, Georgia has since ancient times been a place where Western and Eastern cultures and religion intersect. Christianity was declared the official religion of Georgia in 337. At present there is no such notion as a “state religion” in Georgia but the Georgian Orthodox Christian Church does play an exceptional role.

Among the rights and freedoms enshrined in the Constitution of Georgia there is a special place for freedom of religion or belief.

Georgia is ethnically, culturally and religiously diverse. Throughout many centuries people of different confessions have peacefully coexisted in Georgia.

Orthodox Christianity

The Georgian Apostolic Autocephalous Orthodox Church is one of the oldest churches in the world. It was founded after the conversion of Kartli to Christianity in the 4th century A.D. The first preachers of Christianity in Georgia were the Apostles Andrew the First Called and Simon the Canaanite. Then at the beginning of the 4th century A.D. St. Nino of Cappadocia brought Christianity to Georgia permanently.

Today most of the population of Georgia practices Orthodox Christianity. They actively preserve Christian traditions and celebrate religious holidays.

Roman Catholicism

The Roman Catholic Church in Georgia is part of the global Roman Catholic Church. About 100,000 Georgian residents identify themselves as Roman Catholic. They mainly live in the big cities and in Southern Georgia.

Armenian Apostolic Church

The Georgian parish of the Armenian Apostolic Church is one of the oldest of its parishes and covers the whole territory of Georgia. 2.9 % of the Georgian population identify themselves as Armenian Apostolic.

Judaism

The Jews are one of the oldest communities in Georgia, having first appeared here in the VI century B.C. Georgian Jews living outside Georgia maintain close ties with Georgia. There are Georgian schools and Georgian language courses in Israel, and children are also taught Georgian songs and dances.  The majority of Georgia’s remaining Jews live in Tbilisi and are served by its two synagogues.

Islam

Islam was introduced to Georgia in the 7th century when Eastern Georgia was conquered by Arabs. Islam is a multinational faith in Georgia.  It is practiced by local Azerbaijanis (both Sunni and Shiites), Meskhetian Turks and Kists, and there are smaller numbers of Muslims in Adjara and Abkhazia. There are 286 mosques and Muslim prayer houses in Georgia, and the Tbilisi mosque serves both Shiite and Sunni Muslims.

Other religions and confessions

0.8 % of the Georgian population practice other religions, for example yezidism. Jehovah’s Witnesses, Baptists, Molokans, Doukhobors, etc. can also be found in Georgia.

26,631 people (0.6 % of the population) do not profess any religion.

English Georgian Transcription
Hello გამარჯობა Gamarjoba
Good morning დილა მშვიდობისა Dila mshvidobisa
How are you? როგორ ხარ? Rogor khar?
Fine and you? კარგად, შენ? Kargad and you?
Thank you გმადლობთ Gmadlobt
Nice to meet you სასიამოვნოა თქვენი გაცნობა Sasiamovnoa tkveni gatsnoba
Where are you from? საიდან ხართ? Saidan khart?
I am from London მე ლონდონიდან ვარ Me londonidan var
Goodbye ნახვამდის Nakhvamdis
See you soon მომავალ შეხვედრამდე Momaval shekhvedramde
Good evening! საღამო მშვიდობისა! Saghamo mshvidobisa!
Good night! ძილინებისა! Dzilinebisa!
Please გთხოვთ Gtkhovt
It’s OK კარგია Kargia
It’s bad ცუდია Tsudia
I love you მე შენ მიყვარხარ Me shen mikvarkhar
I like it მომწონს Momtsons
Yes დიახ Diakh
No არა Ara
Sorry ბოდიში Bodishi
Georgia საქართველო Sakartvelo
Tomorrow ხვალ Khval
Today დღეს Dghes
Yesterday გუშინ Gushin
May we have a bill? ანგარიში მომიტანეთ Angarishi momitanet
Please, stop here აქ შემიჩერეთ Ak shemicheret
Year წელი Tseli
Water წყალი Tskali
I feel bad ცუდად ვარ Tsudad var
Please, help დამეხმარეთ Damekhmaret
It’s expensive ძვირია Dzviria
I need a doctor ექიმი მჭირდება Ekimi mchirdeba
Night life ღამის ცხოვრება Ghamis tskhovreba
It’s delicious! გემრიელია Gemrielia
Happy Birthday! გილოცავთ დაბადების დღეს Gilotsavt dabadebis dghes
Congratulations! გილოცავთ Gilotsavt!
Sights ღირშესანიშნაობები Ghirshesanishnavi
Wine ღვინო Ghvino
It’s cheap იაფია Iapia
Historical places ისტორიული ადგილები Istoriuli adgilebi
Caucasus კავკასია Kavkasia
It’s nice ლამაზია Lamazia
Beer ლუდი Ludi
I’m interested in … მაინტერესებს Mainteresebs
Host მასპინძელი Maspindzeli
I am a businessman მე ვარ ბიზნესმენი Me var biznesmeni
I am a tourist მე ვარ ტურისტი Me var turisti
I am a foreigner მე უცხოელი ვარ Me utskhoeli var
I’d like to talk to the manager მენეჯერს დამალაპარაკეთ Menejers damalaparaket
Address მისამართი Misamarti
Tell me your address მისამართი მითხარით Misamarti mitkharit
It’s wonderful მშვენიერია Mshvenieria
Museum მუზეუმი Muzeumi
Money ფული Puli
Police პოლიცია Politsia
Georgian wine ქართული ღვინო Kartuli ghvino
How much does it cost? რა ღირს? Ra ghirs?
How long will it take to get there? რამდენი ხნის სავალზეა? Ramdeni khnis savalzea?
Why? რატომ? Ratom?
How can I contact you? როგორ დაგიკავშირდეთ? Rogor dagikavshirdet?
What’s the time? რომელი საათია? Romeli saatia?
Hospital საავადმყოფო Saavadmkopo
Gift საჩუქარი Sachukari
Where is the nearest cash machine? სად არის უახლოესი ბანკომატი? Sad aris uakhloesi bankomati?
Where is .. ? სად მდებარეობს? Sad mdebareobs?
Where do you work? სად მუშაობთ? Sad mushaobt?
Where will we meet? სად შევხვდეთ? Sad shevkhvdet?
Where can I buy? სად ვიყიდო? Sad vikido?
Embassy საელჩო Saelcho
Specialty საფირმო კერძი Sapirmo kerdzi
Hotel სასტუმრო Sastumro
Do you speak English? საუბრობთ ინგლისურად? Saubrobt inglisurad ?
Business card სავიზიტო ბარათი Savizito barati
May I call? შეიძლება დავრეკო? Sheidzleba davreko?
May I ? შეიძლება? Sheidzleba?
Guest სტუმარი Stumari
Souvenir სუვენირი Suveniri
Translator თარჯიმანი Tarjimani
Month თვე Tve
I don’t understand ვერ გავიგე Ver gavige
Who can I turn to? ვის მივმართო? Vis mivmarto?
Who can I ask? ვის ვკითხო? Vis vkitkho?

Georgian cuisine is famous for its special taste and ingredients. The local food and wine greatly impress tourists.

Georgians like meat dishes, made from beef, pork and mutton, and vegetable dishes seasoned with different spices, herbs, walnuts and garlic. There are many differences between the native cuisines of Western and Eastern Georgia. In Tbilisi, the capital, you can taste dishes from all the regions of Georgia.

There are a lot of restaurants in Tbilisi. You can visit not only traditional Georgian restaurants, which offer dishes from different parts of Georgia, but also those offering European and Asian dishes.

There is always plenty of food and wine at the traditional Georgian feast, the “supra”. Regardless of its size or type, a supra is always led by a tamada, or toastmaster, who introduces the toasts during the feast. Georgians do their best to make their feasts diverse. Not only do they begin with tables crammed full of different dishes, the tables remain crammed as new dishes are added as the feast progresses. It was once considered (and still is by many) that after the feast there still should be an abundance of food on the table, because nobody must think that the host was so mean that there was not enough food. If the table is ever empty the feast was not “generous” enough.

Apart from starters and main courses Georgians are fond of desserts and fruit. Due to its fertile soil and diversity of climate zones many types of fruit can be grown in Georgia: lemons, tangerines, oranges, feijoas, kiwi fruit, grapefruits, grapes, pomegranates, figs, apples, cherries, medlar, etc.

 

The cuisine of Eastern Georgia is based on meat, while dishes made of vegetables seasoned with spices, herbs and nuts, and dairy products prevail in Western Georgia.

As it is known Georgia is also the cradle of wine, which is produced in nearly every region of Georgia. Kvevri (huge vessels which are buried in the ground) are used for fermenting, storing and ageing traditional Georgian wine.

 

Abkhazia

Abkhazian cuisine is distinguished by dishes mixed with various sauces, walnuts and pepper. The staple daily meal is abysta, a cornmeal which is eaten with beans, cheese and meat. Traditional Abkhazian dishes include ashvchapani (boiled cheese), aritsvmgeli (cornbread with walnuts) and akrdtsa (bean soup).

Adjara

Adjaran cuisine is the most diverse in Georgia. It is a mixture of tough mountainous and soft seaside elements. Adjaran cuisine is influenced by the Turkish culinary culture: for example, its sweets are varieties of baklava and shakarlama. In the mountainous parts of Adjara there are many heavy dishes of dairy products. The famous spices of the Adjaran seashore include utskho suneli (blue fenugreek), dried coriander and pepper. The most popular Adjaran dishes are: Borano (cheese melted in butter), Chirbuli (a dish made of eggs and walnuts), wheat flour porridge (traditionally made when celebrating the birth of the firstborn), sinori (a dish made of cottage cheese rolled into thin bread), Adjaran khachapuri (cheese-filled bread in the shape of a boat) and achma (a type of khachapuri with both a crisp crust and tender, cheesy, buttery layers inside).

Adjarans also use melted butter widely in their cuisine. As the local population is much engaged in cattle breeding there is a great diversity of dairy products.

Kakheti

Kakheti is famous for its vineyards and fabulous wine. Traditional Kakhetian dishes include mtsvadi (skewered and grilled cubes of meat), khashlama (a boiled beef dish), chakapuli (a Georgian stew), chikhirtma (chicken soup), etc. Kakhetian mtsvadi is fried on vine branches, which give it a unique taste. Traditional sweets –include churchkhela (a candle-shaped grape juice candy) and tatara (a mixture of flour, sugar and concentrated grape juice). The traditional “shotis puri” bread, which has  a distinct elongated shape, is baked in Kakheti.

Samtskhe-Javakheti

Apokhti, (salted and dried meat) is considered a delicacy in the region of Samtskhe-Javakheti. Another traditional dish is tatarburaki (finely chopped slices of dough eaten with onions stewed in butter). A type of honey called bakmazi, made from mulberries, is also native to this region.

There is a great variety of wheat-based food and baked dishes here: somini, bazlava bread, khmiadi (unleavened bread), etc.

Gozinaki – a traditional Georgian confection made of walnuts, fried in honey – is prepared with bakmazi in Samtskhe-Javakheti.

Kartli

Kartli is famous for its shechamandi (soups) made of cornel, sorrel and matsoni (a fermented dairy product). Different types of herbs and vegetables are used, including potatoes, beans, cabbages, onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, garlic, coriander, parsley and celery. Kartli is also well known for its delicious pickles.

Mtiuleti, Tusheti, Pshavi and Khevsureti

In the mountainous regions of Eastern Georgia the most popular dishes are khinkali (Georgian dumplings), gordila (boiled dough), kaghi (dried and salted meat), kaurma and kotori (khachapuri made with specially prepared cottage cheese). Guda cheese is a delicacy of Tushetian cuisine.  Pshavi and Khevsureti are also famous for their khinkali, which can be made with meat, cottage cheese and potatoes. Another traditional dish of the mountainous regions is khachoerbo, which is made of dried and aged cottage cheese.  Khavitsi is a very popular mountain-cheese fondue, most often eaten with spinach.The local beer and vodka, shipitauri, are very famous throughout Georgia.

Imereti

Chkinti cheese (unripened cheese) and khachapuri are very popular in Imereti. As a rule, mchadi (cornbread) and khachapuri are baked in “ketsi” (clay pans). Local people are fond of dishes made with vegetables, herbs and poultry. Pkhali is a very popular dish, made with many different types of leaves, including spinach, nettle, cabbage and beetroot and flavored with vinegar and walnuts. Meat is usually served fried, with garlic sauce or satsebeli (tomato sauce). Another traditional dish is kuchmachi, which is made from the heart, kidneys and liver of pigs, young cows and chickens. It can be made with walnuts and is usually garnished with pomegranate seeds. Mushroom dishes are also traditional in Imereti, and champignons are widely used. Mushrooms are also salted and canned and  can be kept for several years. Another traditional dish is lobio (beans) with walnuts and kvatsarakhi (plum sauce).

Svaneti

Sulguni cheese (brined cheese) is traditional in both Megrelian and Svanetian cuisine. Traditional Svanetian dishes include chvishtari (cornbread with cheese), kubdari (a meat-filled pastry) and tashmijabi (potatoes with cheese). Svanetian salt should be also mentioned: it is a mixture of table salt and spices.
Racha Lechkhumi

Famous dishes in this region include  shchkmeruli (fried chicken in garlic sauce), beans and lobiani (bean-filled bread). Lobiani is baked in a “tone” (a deep circular clay oven). The locals have a special recipe for making lori (ham).

 

Samegrelo

Samegrelo is famous for its sulguni, and it is used in various dishes. Samegrelo is distinguished by tasty dishes such as ghomi (cornmeal porridge), elarji (cornmeal with melted sulguni), gebzhalia (homemade cheese with mint sauce) and jurjani (fried pork or beef innards served in a spicy sauce). Like the inhabitants of other regions of Western Georgia, the locals like spicy dishes. Ajika (a hot and spicy sauce) and satsebeli (a sauce made of tomatoes seasoned with a variety of spices) are very popular there. Megrelian khachapuri is the speciality of the Megrelian cuisine: it is similar to Imeretian khachapuri but topped with more cheese.

Guria

Like in Imereti, dishes made of poultry, vegetables and mchadi (cornbread) are common. The locals put vine or walnut leaves on the ketsi to fry fish or mchadi with. Walnuts and nuts are widely used to season dishes. Gurian patty – a crescent-shaped variety of khachapuri – is traditionally baked for Christmas. Another local speciality is janjukha – a churchkhela made from nuts.

Georgia is rich in cultural, historical, archeological and architectural monuments. They are recognized worldwide and have a special status. The list of the World Heritage Sites in Georgia includes not only single entities but the whole village as well.

Bagrati Cathedral

Bagrati Cathedral of Dormition was built in XI century during the reign of Bagrat III, the first king of the united Georgia. It is located in Kutaisi, the main city of Imereti (Western Georgia). It is a magnificent medieval church richly decorated with stone carvings and mosaics. It played a significant role in the history of Georgia.

Gelati Monastery

Gelati Monastery is the masterpiece of the medieval Georgian architecture, located near Kutaisi.  It was founded by King David IV, also known as David the Builder, in XII c. It was an important religious, cultural and educational center of Georgia. It is a well-preserved complex with wonderful wall paintings.

Jvari Monastery

(Monastery of the Cross) was built in the VI century not far from Mtskheta, the ancient capital of Georgia on the high rock at the confluence of the rivers Mtkvari and Aragvi. In the 30-s of the VI century King Mirian ordered to erect a large wooden cross symbolizing the acceptance of Christianity. It was the object of worship not only of Georgians but of the Christians from all over the Caucasus. In the second half of the VI century the Small Church of Jvari was built, afterwards the present building or the Great  Church of Jvari was constructed to preserve the Sacred Cross.

Svetitskhoveli Cathedral

Svetitskhoveli Cathedral is located in Mtskheta, the ancient capital Of Georgia. It was built in the XI century and is one of the largest churches in Georgia. The cathedral is known as the burial site of Christ’s robe and the mantle of Elijah the Prophet. Over the centuries Svetitskhoveli Cathedral was one of the major spiritual centers in Georgia. The first wooden church was built in 4th century A.D. during the reign of King Mirian at the advice of St. Nino. It has not preserved till our days.

 

The village of Chazhashi

The village of Chazhashi is located in Upper Svaneti at the confluence of the rivers Enguri and Shavtskala-Kvishara at the elevation of 2200 meters above sea level. Chazhashi is a part of a group of the villages called Ushguli. The complex includes 13 Svanetian towers, 4 tower-houses, 21 machubis (a big two-storey house) and more than 1000 outbuildings.

There is also an archeological museum in Chazhashi. Not far from the village there is a fortress built in XII-XIII cc consisting of three towers, two of which are half-ruined. It is believed to be the winter residence of Queen Tamar.

1 January New Year’s Day
7 January Christmas Day
19 January Epiphany
3 March Mother’s Day
8 March International Women’s Day
Movable Feast Easter
 9 April National Unity Day
9 May Victory Day
12 May St. Andrew’s Day
26 May Independence Day
28 August Mariamoba (Assumption)
14 October Svetitskhovloba
23 November St. George’s Day