Georgia is a country with an ancient and unique culture, whose roots stretch back for at least millennia, perhaps slightly isolated by the towering Caucasus mountains, to the north & south, and the tricky passes between east and west. Indeed, archaeology has shown that viticulture and winemaking originated in the lowland region of eastern Georgia circa 4,000 BC. Read More
In terms of language, the Georgian spoken & written language is also unique (no known root), although the earliest Georgian alphabet is relatively modern (430 AD), coinciding
with the adoption of Christianity.
Modern day Georgians are largely Christian (with a small Muslim minority), having adopted Christianity in the early 4th century through the preaching of Saint Nino, a female Saint, traditionally understood to have been related to Saint George. Georgians are generally quite conservative in terms of traditional values, for example the youngest son has a special status in a Georgian family, and daughters are not really allowed to have boyfriends, only husbands (although this attitude is slowly changing, especially amongst the more educated younger generation).
Socially, the extended family is still extremely important in Georgia. Moreover, at family gatherings, one will encounter the somewhat unique Georgian ‘toast’. This is a kind of feast/ritual associated with the drinking of wine and music, where men (and sometimes women) will take turns to make short speeches in honour of certain things, for example a toast in honour of ‘wives’, or for ‘a long life & health of a particular person’. One is not allowed to drink while a toast is being made and for larger gatherings a Tamada (Toast Master) is designated to lead, make and coordinate toasts throughout the evening.
Georgians have a traditional dress which dates back to the 9th century. For men, this is a kind of tunic called a Chokha, more recently with pockets for bullet casings over the breasts, always worn with a sword and usually in red, white or black. For women, traditional dress is less distinctive, but usually ankle length and broad bottomed. Georgians also have a very unique form of dance, which is a joy to watch and appreciate, when performed well. In terms of folk music, the polyphonic Chakrulo is the most internationally famous song, and typifies the still rich and vibrant musical tradition in Georgia.
Finally, Georgians pride themselves on their hospitality, and visitors are always welcome. Indeed, from a Georgian perspective, it is an honour to receive visitors, especially if they are from far afield. As a visitor to Georgia, this way of thinking extends to the hospitality and tourism sector as well, so you will always be made to feel most welcome.