Traditions and customs of Georgia

What traditions and customs are there in Georgia?

The Caucasian lands bring us a lot of Georgian customs and traditions.

Food and economy

Food in daily life

The biggest culinary divide is between the western and eastern regions. In the west, there is a greater emphasis on vegetarian food, prepared predominantly with nuts.

Herbs and spices, especially tarragon, basil, coriander, feuille grec, and pepper, make western Georgian food hot and spicy. Cheese is usually made from cow’s milk and is eaten with cornbread or corn and flour porridge. Khachapuri, a kind of cheese pizza, is common.

In the eastern zone, the food is heavier, with more emphasis on lamb and pork. Wheat bread is preferred over corn, and Tusheti sheep cheese is popular. Among the mountain people, the most popular food is khinkali, a cooked meatball that is often accompanied by beer.

The most popular vegetables are tomatoes, potatoes, radishes, pumpkins, eggplants, beans, cucumbers and cabbage. The most popular sauce, tkemali, is made from wild plums; other sauces are based on spiced nuts, or pomegranate juice. Wine is drunk everywhere, and the strongest alcoholic beverages include araki, which is made from grapes and other fruits with honey.

Fish, especially trout, is consumed universally. A wide variety of local fruits is complemented by wild and cultivated berries, watermelons and other melons. Dried fruit and nuts coated with a mixture of grape juice and wheat or corn flour are eaten in the winter. The jams are prepared with fruits, green nuts, watermelons, eggplants and green tomatoes.

Food customs on ceremonial occasions

Ground walnuts boiled in honey are served at the New Year’s party, along with a turkey or chicken in walnut sauce. An Easter meal includes hard-boiled eggs dyed red and other bright colors, roast suckling pig and lamb, and special cakes with vanilla and spices.

Special dishes are served at a wake: rice with lamb in the east, and meat with sweet rice and raisins in the west. The special wheat porridge with walnuts and honey is served forty days after a person’s death.


Both men and women can kiss each other on the cheek in public places. Kisses on the lips and intimate hugs in public are not approved. Shaking hands is common, but women shake hands less often than men. Either the person with a higher social status or the woman should initiate the greeting and define her form.

In the country, it is common to greet strangers. Men can hug while walking down the street. In general, the closer the relationship, the less distance people are from each other. Women should not look at a stranger or smoke in the street.


Religious beliefs

The vast majority of the population belongs to the Georgian Orthodox Church, an Eastern (Greek) Orthodox Church. Confessional identity is a strong cultural factor that defines the prevailing social value system. The majority of Georgians in Ajara are Sunni Muslims, as are some inhabitants of the Meskheti region.

There are also Shia Muslims among the Turkic inhabitants in the southeast (Azeris), and Sunni Muslims among the Abkhazians, Ossetians and Greeks. Several Protestant churches are active, with Baptists being the most successful. Most Armenians belong to the Gregorian Christian Church.

There are small groups of Yezid Kurds, Molokans, and Russian and Jewish Dukhobors; the population of these last two groups has decreased due to emigration. Newly emerging cults and sects, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, face hostility and aggression from established churches and the populace.

Rituals and Holy Places

The vast majority of Orthodox religious ceremonies are performed by priests in churches. The most important ceremonies, especially those for Easter and Christmas, are performed by the Patriarch in the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral in the ancient city of Mtskheta, or in the Zion Cathedral in Tbilisi.

Daily services are held in churches, as well as at weddings and baptisms. In some cases the priests are invited to other places to bless new initiatives, buildings or organizations.

Many people claim to be religious but rarely attend religious ceremonies. In mountainous regions, people who identify themselves as Christians continue to follow rituals of pagan origin.

Death and the afterlife

Many of the popular beliefs and rituals regarding death and the afterlife stem from a mixture of Christian and pagan concepts, with many superstitions and cultural borrowings. Respecting the deceased is a very important part of social life, and much time is spent attending funerals and wakes and caring for graves.

Although people believe in an eternal life after death, there is no clear understanding of its nature; people observe the rules and try to reduce their pain by ritualizing the grieving process.

Secular celebrations

The most observed holiday is still the New Year. Among the national holidays, Independence Day is the most respected, and people like to attend even newly invented festivities like Tbilisoba in October, a holiday invented by the communist authorities.

Arts and Humanities

Arts support

Although the state is supposed to support the arts through the Ministry of Culture, there are few funds that rarely find the right application. Some professional unions, once controlled by the government, continue to claim state support despite contributing little to cultural life.

Artists whose work is less dependent on language restrictions, such as painters and artisans, seek financial support and markets abroad. Many writers and artists work in politics or business or try to link them with their art; It is not uncommon for filmmakers and writers to hold a position in parliament or other government agencies.


Literature is in dire straits due to the political and economic crisis that began long before independence. There are only a few talented young writers and poets and hardly any of the older generation. The literary market is dominated by translations of bestsellers, detective novels and erotica.

Graphic arts

Graphic arts are popular, and many young artists are showing high levels of creativity and skill. Many artists sell their works in the West.

Performing arts

The performing arts are in crisis because the limitations imposed by language prevent art from finding a wider audience. Several ballet dancers, opera singers, and theater directors have found success in other countries. However, in Tbilisi, performing arts and drama are alive and rich.

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