23 April, 2021

How Georgians Celebrate Easter

Easter is the biggest holiday in Georgia, as in whole Christendom. On this day, people celebrate the resurrection of Christ, the victory over death, and the renewal. Easter is the most important holiday among the Great Feasts of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Christians celebrate it on the week following the vernal equinox, after the Jewish Passover, which is celebrated on a Sunday (from April 4 to May 8, different date each year). An integral part of the Eater is Palm Sunday, the day when Christ entered Jerusalem in glory. People greeted him with palm branches and the shout of "Hosanna." On Palm Sunday, every family brings boxwood branches home from the temple. In Georgia, the blessed boxwood is a representation of palm branches. Palm Sunday is followed by Holy Week. During Holy Week, on Red Friday, every family paints their eggs red, representing Christ's passion. They also bake Paska (Georgian Easter bread). Easter eggs are not eaten until Easter day. In recent years, it has become an essential attribute of the Easter tradition to grow a Jejili (Easter grass) in a small vessel, which is associated with life and renewal. Red eggs are often put around the Jejili grown for Easter. On Sunday night, a large number of believers attend a solemn liturgy in the church that lasts until morning. After Easter Sunday, for one week, people greet each other saying "The Christ has risen" instead of greeting! It is a Georgian way of saying "Happy Easter"! And they answer - "Indeed"! (Earlier, this tradition lasted 40 days after Easter). On Easter Sunday, every family has a festive supper including Easter red eggs and Paska. Children especially love the tradition of tapping Easter eggs at each other. Everyone tries to choose the hardest egg to break. The one whose egg won't break gets the opponent's cracked egg. There is a tradition of going to the cemetery on the next day of Easter. People go to the graves of loved ones, bring Easter eggs, Paska, drinks, and food, pay tribute to the lost loved ones, and leave Easter eggs on the grave. The following Sunday of Easter the Feast of Quasimodogeniti is celebrated.

There are some Easter traditions in Georgia, which are almost forgotten today. One of the special traditions is Chona, which by its nature resembles Christmas Alilo.

The participants of this tradition visited every family in the village singing Easter songs and wished a happy holiday. The family served the guests eggs, sweet cakes, and even money. At the end of the day, the youth celebrated Easter together with the collected goods. Every region of Georgia had different traditions of celebrating Easter. A tradition established In Kazbegi, in the village of Sno is very similar to Chona. At Easter, a group of young boys, led by an honorable man of the village, entered every yard of the village with bows and arrows to celebrate Easter. The family members welcomed the visitors, and the hostess was bringing an offering. In the middle of the yard, Easter eggs were put in rows one by one, for each family member. They were loudly announcing the names for whom the egg was put. The young people were shooting arrows at the eggs until every one of them was cracked. Often, along with eggs, the natives put various dishes and money. At the end of the day, everyone gathered and celebrated with the donations collected, while collected money was spent for the benefit of the village.


In Samegrelo, on Easter day, people baked flatbreads with cheese and eggs, slaughtered a lamb or a pig on top of a special Qvevri - Lagvani. The head of the family did not drink anything, even water since the morning. In the afternoon he used to put the pig's heart and liver, rooster's head, flatbreads, and wine on top of Qvevri. Then opened the Qvevri and gave a toast.


In Racha, people made bread porridge and baked the Lavashi- Georgian bead on Easter morning. After the liturgy, the priest went to each family and blessed them. Those, who had lost family members for the past time, slaughtered the sheep for Easter, placed the lamb leg, Lavashi, and other stuff on a platter, and brought it to the priest at home as the present. On the second day of Easter, "Giorgontoba" was celebrated. Lobiani, Sheketsili (pastry), Bokhchuana (Rachvelian Khatchapuri) were baked. The meat was also boiled, and a great celebration was held.


On Easter Sunday, a traditional Lelo ("goal" or "try" in Georgian) was held in Guria. Gurians filled the leather ball with sand and sawdust and poured the "aguna" juice into it. Aguna is a mix of red wine, honey, and pomegranate juice, which was also given to players in small amounts for encouragement.


In Kakheti, lambs and pigs were slaughtered for Easter. Also, locals baked pastries and distributed neighbors. A big supper was being held, the neighbors were inviting each other and celebrating the holiday.


In Svaneti, the people attended the liturgy in the main church of the village. The Easter celebration lasted all week and ended with Uplishi - the same as the Feast of Quasimodogeniti that is specially celebrated in Svaneti to this day.

Tags: #Svaneti #History #racha #Culture #tradition #kakheti #Culinary #Samegrelo

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Mariam Mavzarashvili
Mariam Mavzarashvili

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