29 October, 2021

St. George's Day in Georgia

Category: Information History

The cult of St. George dates back to the IV century in Georgia and it is not a coincidence at all.

St. George holds a special place among Christian saints. This is proven by the fact that most of the churches in Georgia are built in the name of St. George. As Vakhushti Batonishvili notes, "there is no hill, high or low, where St. George's Church does not stand." These temples are built in cities, villages, on cliffs, mountain peaks and hard-to-reach places. The churches are painted with frescoes depicting the life and miracles of St. George. Strong worship of the martyr is also expressed by the fact that the name - George is widespread among the nation.

St. George went down in the history of the church as a mighty, celestial rider. He is considered the patron saint of horsemen, farmers, shepherds and travelers. People also beg him for deliverance from demonic forces.

Celebration of St. George's Day in Georgia in the Past and Now

In our country, unlike other Orthodox countries, St. George's Day (Giorgoba) is celebrated twice a year - on November 23 and May 6. St. George's day in November, the date of which is approaching is a day of martyrdom of a saint on the wheel and from the Orthodox world, is celebrated only in Georgia. On this day, liturgies are held in the name of the martyr in all operating temples and monasteries. In Svetitskhoveli, a big solemn liturgy is held on the holiday every year.

Most Georgian religious holidays are associated with the name of St. George. Saint George's Day was held under different names in different parts of Georgia: in Kartli, it was called Geristoba, Usanetoba, Atotsoba; In Kakheti - Alaverdoba, Tetri Giorgoba; In Samegrelo - Iloroba and others. On St. George's Day, people walked around the church three or seven times. The choir sang the praises. The "icon slaves" in white robes, with heavy chains around their necks, walked around the church on their knees and lit candles on the walls. An "icon slave" was lying on the threshold of the door and everyone who entered the temple stepped on him. After the liturgy, the sacrificed cattle and birds were slaughtered, and a dinner was held, that often lasted for several days.

Today, in the Gorijvari church, in Gori Municipality, despite the resistance of the clergy, the locals still sacrifice sheep and roosters. It should be noted that the tradition of sacrifice is associated with paganism, not with the Christian religion.

According to folk legend, there are 365 blessings in the name of St. George, which is associated with the daily holiday of St. George and the 365 parts of St. George situated in Georgia. According to legend, after the saint's death, God disassembled his body and dispersed the parts around the country. On the sites of these parts, shrines were erected.

Who Was Saint George the Martyr

According to the Catholicos-Patriarch of Georgia, Kirion, St. George was a Meskhetian from Cappadocia, and according to St. Arsen Iqaltoeli (Arsen of Iqalto), he was the cousin of the enlightener of Georgia St. Nino the Martyr. St. George was born in the second half of the third century, about 275, in a wealthy Christian family. He joined the Roman army at an early age and showed himself to be especially brave. During the reign of the Roman emperor Diocletian, he became a knight. In the last years of his reign, Diocletian started a fierce fight against Christianity. Everyone who opposed the king's verdict was sentenced to death. After starting the persecution of the Christians, St. George resisted the emperor. Subsequently, the pagan Roman emperor demanded from the saint to reject Christ. However, George of Cappadocia chose martyrdom rather than denial of Christ. According to legend, he was severely tortured on the wheel by the Roman emperor. The martyr went through many tortures, he was tied on the wheel, sometimes he was put in the hot boiler of lime, but during each torture the saint prayed, Christ strengthened him, and he was miraculously healed. In 303, at the age of 30, St. George was beheaded. According to his will, the body of St. George was buried in the Palestinian city of Ramla, and during the reign of Constantine the Great, it was transferred to the great temple built in the name of St. George, in the city of Lida. He went down the history of the Orthodox Church as a mighty and celestial rider.

The Veneration of St. George in Georgia

The veneration of St. George in Georgia started at the beginning of the 4th century. Georgia, the country of St. George, has been called so since ancient times. According to Arsen Ikaltoeli, St. Nino, enlightener of Georgia, was a cousin of a great martyr, and the Georgian nation learned from her about the martyrdom of St. George. According to legend, it was St. Nino who established this day as a holiday.

Numerous miraculous icons have been created in the name of St. George, which have a symbolic meaning. St. George on horseback, killing a dragon with a spear, represents a victory over evil. Many legends in Georgia tell, that the saint often helped the Georgian army in the battles against numerous enemies, including the battle of Didgori. St. George was depicted on the coat of arms of the Georgian kings, the Bagrationi dynasty, as a dragon-slayer. He is a symbol, the embodiment and protector of a united Georgia. St. George is the main figure of the Coat of arms of Georgia and in heraldry and vexillology symbolically is represented with a red right-angled cross on a white background.

The cult of St. George is widespread all over the world. He is worshiped not only by the Orthodox but also by the followers of all the other branches of Christianity, including Catholics, Protestants, Gregorians and Monophysites. Information about the saint can even be found in the holy book of Muslims - the Quran.

According to the Labor Code of Georgia, November 23 is a holiday and is only celebrated by the Georgian Apostolic Autocephalous Orthodox Church.

Tags: #tradition #ტრადიციები

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