New Year in Georgia

December 31 - January 2

The annual cycle of public holidays in Georgia starts and ends with the New Year, a family festival spent with relatives and close friends. As members of the Orthodox Church, Georgians celebrate Christmas in January and not December, yet they have incorporated some Western traditions into their New Year celebrations. One such example is the Christmas tree, which decorates Georgian homes throughout the season.

New Year is celebrated with a supra feast of traditional dishes such as satsivi (young roasted pork) and gozinaki (honey-glazed nuts). The more sweets on the table, the "sweeter" the coming year will be. Eloquent toasts of best wishes are proclaimed until midnight, when the city lights up with fireworks and rumbles with music and cheers.

Mekvle, the first guest who crosses the threshold of each house after midnight, is a critical component of the Georgian New Year. Since the Mekvle is believed to bring either joy and luck or misfortune to the home, the person was traditionally chosen beforehand, particularly in small villages where locals knew who had a talent for bringing good fortune. When entering the house, Mekvle blesses the home and throws sweets, nuts, and fruit into every corner of the room.

The New Year festivities continue on January 2, known as Bedoba, or the Day of Luck. Since Georgians believe that what happens on Bedoba will determine the course of the whole year, people do their best to stay cheerful and positive, and bad moods are forbidden.