Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: "Holiday Greetings From Georgia, Home Of The 'World's Oldest Christmas Tree'"

  • An 'alilo' procession in Georgia collects presents for the poor and the underprivileged before Christmas. Photo: Mzia Saganelidze/RFE/RL.

Review by, 5 Jan 2021, Tbilisi,Georgia

From chichilaki, Georgia's own unique Christmas tree, to dishes and snacks prepared for the festive season celebrations, the country has its distinctive traditions when it comes to marking the New Year's Eve and Christmas dates, a Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty article reveals to its readers.

Compiled in a talk with RFE/RL's Georgian service correspondent Okropir Rukhadze, the selection of national meals and the chichilaki "showcases the depth and variety"of the ways in which the end of the year is celebrated in the country, Coilin O'Connor says in the piece co-authored with Rukhadze.

One of the most quintessentially Georgian traditions, which has enjoyed a revival in recent years, is the 'chichilaki'" - RFE/RL

To make chichilaki [...] Georgians 'pick a branch of hazelnut [...] and shave it to produce something that looks like a small coniferous tree," Rukhadze explains in the feature.

Decorated with items, fruits and sometimes religious symbols, the chichilaki serves as the centrepiece of household celebrations of the festive season until it is burned following the Orthodox Christmas celebrations, which come on January 7.

Christmas in the country is also marked with alilo, a street procession on the night of January 6 to 7, for collecting presents for the poor and the underprivileged, the article also notes.

Beside introducing bits from a brief history of the walk, the RFE/RL piece also details other national aspects of the New Year's Eve and Christmas festive season, from the gozinaki sweet snack to meals and even a recipe for making the satsivi, one of the inseparable parts of the Georgian household celebrations of the two dates.

Read the full story here.