Your complete Georgian Christmas, New Year’s Eve guide

  • Here is your full Georgian gifts guide for the festive season. Photo by N.Alavidze/Agenda.ge

By Genevieve Helliwell

Journalist of Agenda.ge

Agenda.ge, 31 Dec 2015, Tbilisi,Georgia

Christmas and New Year’s Eve are the most exciting times of the year; it’s a time when family comes together, the Christmas tree is decorated and lots of delicious food is eaten. Festive season is also a time to spend with family and friends. It’s a time of giving to show our loved ones how much we care and appreciate them.

But what do you give your loved ones?

Whether you live in Georgia or if you’re a foreigner wanting to sample a taste of Georgia, this article is for you.

Georgia is a unique country filled with many treasures. Agenda.ge has compiled a list of the best Georgian Christmas and New Year’s Eve gift ideas for this festive season.

ESTIA: Handmade gifts with your personal touch

Handmade arts boutique

For a slice of Georgia, head to handmade art and craft shop Estia on Lermontov St in the heart of Tbilisi and you will discover unique and personalised gifts unlike any other. From ornately decorated picture frames to mugs, plates, teapots, glasses, mirrors, tapestry, fabric painting and all types of housing accessories, the staff at Estia can create anything your heart desires.

Adding a personal touch to gifts makes all the difference, says one of the store’s three owners Natia Nozadze. "There are many good souvenirs in Georgia but we aim to make something different than what’s already available in the Georgian market while still staying honest to our history,” she says.

All of what we do is real Georgian. We chose Georgian ornaments first of all because we like them; they’re unique, traditional and rich in cultural history. Secondly we want to produce items that people can use every day and enjoy. … What we have here is new but at the same time it’s old,” she says pointing out a 19th Century replica platter and teapot.

Using a whole range of natural and synthetic materials, the items produced at Estia are made delicately and with love. Clients can take part in a range of creative workshops to create and paint their own gift or purchase an item from the well-stocked shop.

Located at 3 Lermontov St, Estia is open from 11am to 9pm daily. Prices are affordable and gifts can be purchased from the shop or made to order.

AZARPHESHA: Top three Georgian wine of the year

Wine expert Luarsab Togonidze shares his secrets

Wine is the perfect gift to give this festive season, says restaurant owner and wine expert Luarsab Togonidze.

"Wine helps you to relax and is a great way to get you in a festive mood. Of course don’t drink too much wine but it helps you to become braver to tell people that you love them, especially with our tradition of toast-making, which allows you to express your love and gratitude.”

Luarsab co-owns Azarphesha wine restaurant in central Tbilisi. With his vast wine expertise, visitors always leave Azarphesha happy; he pairs meals with complementary wines, either made locally or from afar.

His three favourite wines right now are:

  • Chinuri, Phesant’s Tears – 55 GEL (about USD 23, EUR 21)
  • Rkatsiteli, Okra wine – 55 GEL (about USD 23, EUR 21)
  • Usakhelouri - 72 GEL (about USD 30, EUR 28)

For a really great bottle of wine you can expect to pay about 60 GEL (about USD 25, EUR 23). "For this price, it can be a life-changing experience so it’s worth it,” says Luarsab Togonidze.

He notes Georgian natural wines are made with minimal interference and can vary year-to-year as the environmental conditions change, so when you find a great bottle, snap it up. Amber wines are a good gift choice this year; these wines are growing in popularity in Georgia and abroad.

Georgian wine is now exported to dozens of countries, including the US and UK. For readers outside of Georgia, you’re able to purchase traditional Georgian wine via the internet from these vendors:

Blu Danube Wines, USA

Georgian Wine Society, UK

* Links from the Georgian National Wine Agency

SAMOSELI PIRVELI

 Georgian National Dress

One of the most exquisite things about Georgia is its national dress. Dating back thousands of years, the traditional clothing of the Georgian people is elegant, sophisticated and classic.

Local company Samoseli Pirveli is promoting the revival of Georgian national clothing and the traditions and skills used to make the exquisite garments; from full national dress with a dagger to simpler accessories and every day wear.

Located in Vake, Samoseli Pirveli creates unique and personalised Georgian national clothing for people in Tbilisi and all over the world. Simply view their extensive collection on their Facebook page, send in your measurements and the finished garment will be sent to you. Recently the store sent a garment to a client in Germany.

Georgia’s national dress comes in many shapes and forms that are tailor-made for all occasions, says one of the founders Luarsab Togonidze. Prices are expensive for a full garment however the store also makes a range of everyday wear and accessories for all budgets.

First of all it’s beautiful, it’s practical, it’s elegant and then it reminds you of Georgian culture and traditions. Some are worn only on special days, such as a wedding, but there are accessories like this scarf-like embroidered piece can be worn with any kind of clothing.”

Asked whether it was disrespectful for a foreigner to don traditional Georgian clothing, Luarsab Togonidze replied: "Georgian’s will admire you [if you wear it]. Georgia is small and has always been dominated by other cultures – only Georgians respected the Georgian culture – so if we see others respecting our language or song, our script or the garment, we love it, it’s very flattering and we feel proud. Actually that’s a shortcut to the Georgians’ heart.”

The business was established in 2010 and employs about 40 people who replicate items from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries but the business is planning to delve deeper into history and reproduce even older goods.

The store is located at 22 Chavchavadze Ave, Vake.

BEBBO

Handmade slippers from the Georgian mountains

Winter in Georgia can be cold but don’t despair - grab yourself some Bebbo slippers. Bebbo’s, which translate to ‘grandmother’ in Georgian, are traditional handmade slippers made from 100 percent natural wool.

Zuka Alavidze, the man behind the international sales project, said wool was a breathable fibre that provided instant warmth and comfort, and also helped joints to stay more flexible and healthy.

You can get your hands on some Bebbo’s for £35 (125 GEL), with money going towards labour and material cost. These can be purchased all over the world via website www.Bebbos.co.uk soon.

Customers are able to purchase their own pair from anywhere in the world (different postage charges might apply).

If you live in Georgia you can find the cheaper price at the local souvenirs street markets or shops.

Bebbo is a Georgian traditional handmade slipper, made 100% of natural wool. Unlike other synthetic home-use footwear, as Bebbos are made purely from wool, they regulate themselves to an individual’s body temperature, and are warm in winter, whilst cool in summer."

"As well enhanced temperature control, slippers offer health benefits such as joint flexibility, and regulated heart rate in the long run, which leads to a better night sleep,” emphasised Zuka Alavidze.

CHURCHKHELA

The Georgian ‘snickers bar’

For a cheaper option that will satisfy any hungry tummy, get your hands on this delicious Georgian snack called churchkhela. The tasty candy, shaped like a candlestick, sees walnuts threaded onto a string and repeatedly dipped into tatara – a mixture of flour, sugar and concentrated grape juice.

Locally known as the Georgian snickers bar, Churchkhela is very tasty and high in energy, which was why churchkhella was often placed in the packs of Georgian soldiers.

The snack can be found on almost every street corner in Tbilisi and all over Georgia, but the traditional Georgian treat can also be purchased online via Amazon.

From Georgia with love

Other souvenirs

People in Georgia’s capital should take a stroll along the top of Shota Rustaveli Ave; there you will be able to find a range of cheaper goods, from jewellery to drinking horns, decorative plates and thick knitted socks.

Artists line the street, painting intricate images of the Tbilisi landscape, people, animals and daily life. Others paint caricatures or sell hats to passing tourists. Georgia is the cradle of wine and here you can also find wine bottle covers in traditional Georgian dress.

You can find all these goods and more at the top of Rustaveli Ave. Some of the goods are mass produced and can be picked up for a very small cost.

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