25 November, 2021


Category: Culture

"Old New Year" or New Year in "Old Style", as we often call it, is celebrated on January 14 in all parts of Georgia.

However, it is specially celebrated in Guria and for Gurians the same as "Kalandoba" is the most important holiday. New Year, "Kalandoba" is characterized by peculiarities, an interesting ritual in families, and a long history.

Kalandoba is a traditional and different Gurian New Year.

"Kalanda" comes from the Latin word calendar and means the first day of the month. While the whole world celebrates the New Year on January 1, for the Gurians this holiday falls on January 14.

Chichilaki - "Georgian Christmas Tree"

The main attribute of Kalandoba is the chichilaki. According to folk tradition, the Gurians decorate the chichilaki in honor of St. Basil, as the chichilaki is white and people find it similar to the white beard of St. Basil. And as for the cake baked for the New Year, they call it "Basil bread".

The chichilaki is often called the Georgian Christmas tree. It was mainly spread in western Georgia. Two weeks before the New Year, people cut a long stick of hazel tree and soak it in water. On New Year's Eve, the bark is burnt on the fire, then it is peeled, and decorated with the cross on the top, haws, greenbriers, fruits, and sweets, and ivy is laid under it. The tradition of putting ivy under the chichilaki is connected to Greek mythology. The god of Olympus covered Dionysus with ivy to save him from being burned by the fire of his enemies. This is why the Gurians believe that the ivy wrapped around the chichilaki brings freshness and life to the family.

The first Chichilaki was made in the village of Basileti in Guria.

Gurian Mekvle (The first guest on New Year's Day)

In Guria, the mekvle has a different name too and is called a mperkhavi. The host meets mperkhavi on New Year's Eve in the yard, they sing Alilo (Georgian Christmas carol) together and greet each other.

Mekvle is a person who should bring kindness and happiness to a family. According to tradition, St. Basil was considered to be a mekvle of Georgians. Kalandoba coincides with the day of his commemoration, January 14th.

Dressed in Akhalukhi (part of the traditional dress of Georgians), galliffet trousers, and bashlyk, the host leads the guests to the cellar with a flat wooden bowl. In the bowel, there were: boiled pig's head, birds (fried), ghomi in a clay pot with eggs laid in it, pie, wine made with "Adesa" grape in a clay jug, Khechechuri-variety of pear, winter apple, dried fruits, Janjukha/Churchkhela; On the plate, stands a chichilaki, that is decorated with haws, greenbriers, ivy and apple on top.

While entering the cellar, the head of the family would silently place bowel on the ground, fill the jug with wine, kneel and ask St. Basil for the happiness of the family. Then, mekvle would take a walnut from the bowl and beg St. Basil to fill the family with all the goodness the way this walnut was filled.

The walnut was broken and, if it turned out to be empty, which, according to the Gurians, was ominous, the mekvle begged the saint again not to make the family look like an empty walnut.

After that the procession continued in the house:

The mekvle would knock on the door three times with the words: "Open the door!" The hosts would answer from the house three times: "What have you brought?" The mekvle replied: "Peace, god's mercy, janjukha, khachapuri, sweets ...". Then the door was opened, and the New Year celebration began.

Gurian Supper and Preparation of Kalandoba

New Year is celebrated in Guria with pie, gozinaki, slaughtered pig, red wine in the cellar, and Krimanchuli.

The key element of the New Year's table is satsivi, made from turkey meat, ghomi, and mchadi made on a clay pan. A flatbread, a traditional Gurian crescent-shaped khachapuri with boiled eggs is also an integral part of Christmas. The shape of the crescent was a symbol of strength according to the beliefs of the ancient Gurians. While the egg laid in khachapuri is a symbol of wealth, prosperity, family strength, and solidity.

Chichilaki held an important place on the festive platter, which was set on New Year's Eve.

The Gurian man started the preparation process 40 days before New Year's Eve. The pig and the rooster were placed in the manure to gain weight before Kalandoba.

However, traditionally, active preparation for the Gurian family began on January 13th. The day before Kalandoba was called Tskhemlischra (hornbeam cutting). On this day, a male family member cut down a hornbeam tree in the forest, made firewood from it, brought it into the house, and put it near the fire to dry.

The Gurians continued the celebration of Kalandoba for the next day. Kalandoba is still celebrated with joy and singing for two whole days. The second day of Kalandoba, January 15, is called "Kuchkha" in Guria. The first person who visited the family should be someone they had decided to be mekvle and all goodness, wealth and prosperity, were considered to be the merits of his foot.

On this day, the mekvle brought sweets as a gift to the family and lit the fireplace.

Various Georgian songs were performed at the New Year table, most special among them was the song "Alilo".

Today, old New Year traditions are transformed, some even forgotten, although the Gurians preserved the Kalandoba tradition to this day.

Last year, "Kalandoba" was celebrated at the Shalva Radiani Ethnographical Museum in the village of Dvabzu.

The President of Georgia, Salome Zourabichvili, the Speaker of the Parliament, and representatives of the local government of Guria attended the event.

That day, the Kalandoba was celebrated traditionally, with its ancient rituals such as - calling the aguna, the merits of the foot of mekvle, cutting the hornbeam, baking the Gurian pie, and making the chichilaki.

Tags: #Culture #tradition #New Year #ტრადიციები #გურია #კალანდა #ჩიჩილაკი #კალანდობა #მეკვლე

Please login to add a comment

Write a comment

Write a comment

Similar articles