The country of Georgia is home to ancient cultural traditions that never fail to amaze foreign tourists. Located below Russia and on the eastern shores of the Black Sea, Georgia is home to beautiful landscapes, ancient structures, interesting local cuisine, and hospitable people. The culture and festivals in Georgia are unique in the world, as unique as the country’s geographical location, sandwiched between Europe and Asia, and the sea and mighty mountains.
The Georgian people love their music, architecture, arts, and culture. These are rich expressions of who they are as a people, and now they are ready to offer these to the rest of the world.
Orthodox Christianity is the leading religion in Georgia and one of the country’s important religious festivals is the Alaverdoba in the eastern part of the country, specifically in the province of Kakheti. This 3-week-long folk celebration carries different symbolisms. It celebrates harvest and agriculture, alludes pre-Christian cults that involved moon worship, and commemorates the feast of St. Joseph Alaverdi, one of the 13 Assyrian Fathers. The celebrations culminate on September 28 and center around the 6th-century Alaverdi Cathedral (named after the saint).
Having survived the Soviet years, the Alaverdoba festival is one of the longest-running celebrations in the country. It is participated in by locals and foreigners alike.
As the month of September ends, the country shifts to celebrate Rtveli, which is another festivity celebrating the harvest. There is much singing, feasting and merrymaking. This lasts for several days.
One month after the Alaverdi-based events comes the Tbilisoda, a much newer festivity that celebrates the history and diversity of Georgia’s capital city, Tbilisi. Founded on October 28, 1979, Tbilisoda was originally the invention of ruling Soviet leaders as a diversion from other religious festivities. It was part of the Communist Party’s efforts to replace old Caucasian traditions.
Through the years, residents of Tbilisi have learned to love the event and had embraced it as their own. The celebrations take place in Old Tbilisi, the historical part of the capital city, with dancing, feasting, open concerts, traditional music, cultural events, and fairs.
A third festival is the Berikaoba, which is a colorful and very interesting masquerade folk theater that tackles several themes in eroticism and political satire. A number of Georgian men or actors wear masks and put on animal disguises using real animal skulls, tails, feathers, horns, and so on. There are also some actors disguised as a groom, bride, matchmaker, priest, judge, and doctor. The entire town gathers for a procession, picking up wine, honey and meat along the way from house to house. The event speaks against foreign invaders, including the Russians, Soviets and Muslims.
Overall, culture and festivals in Georgia reflect the deep regard that Georgians have for their country. It is a nation of wonders, a natural paradise that has finally opened its doors to international tourism after the Soviet collapse in 1991. The leading tourist attractions are the mountains, scenic views, the ancient Silk Road, old monasteries, the ancient city of Tbilisi, Georgian wine, ancient architectural feats, and two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Bagrati Cathedral and Gelati Monastery.