GEORGIAN CULTURE

GEORGIAN CULTURE

 The culture of Georgia has evolved over the country's long history, providing it with a unique national culture and a strong literary tradition based on the Georgian language and alphabet. This has provided a strong sense of national identity that has helped to preserve Georgian distinctiveness despite repeated periods of foreign occupation.

 Religion: Orthodox Christian 83.9%, Muslim 9.9%, Armenian-Gregorian 3.9%, Catholic 0.8%, other 0.8%, none 0.7% (2002 census)

 Government: Republic

 Language in Georgia.

 Georgian is the primary language of about 3.9 million people in Georgia itself (83% of the population).It is the literary language for all ethnographic groups of Georgian people, especially those who speak other South Caucasian languages (or Kartvelian languages): Svans, Megrelians, and the Laz. Gruzinic.

 Religion in Georgia

 Most Georgians belong to the Georgian Orthodox (65%), Russian Orthodox (10%) or Armenian Apostolic (8%) churches.  Although religion does not overtly impact the culture, behaviour or etiquette, the values do on a subtle level appear in outlook and also areas such as treatment of guests.

 

Hospitality

Warm hospitality a very Georgian trait. Guests are seen as a gift and foreigners are therefore guests of the country. Expect to be invited to a home for a meal and try to take up the offer. The supra is a large dinner party involving many toasts. The toastmaster or "tamada" selects people to make long toasts and for special toas, a horn full of wine is passed around the table. Beer is only used to toast the enemy! So don't toast with beer.

 

 

Meeting and Greeting

 When meeting someone for the first time, shake hands while saying "gamarjoba" ("hello"). Once a relationship warms up some, but not all, Georgians will quickly move to a kiss on the cheek. When addressing people only close friends or family will usually use first names.  First names may also be used with the word "Batono" ("Sir") or "Kalbatono" ("Madam") immediately afterwards, which brings a sense of formality. Most people would expect to be addressed with their appropriate title followed by the surname.

Dining Etiquette

Table manners are generally unfussy and relaxed. Meals are above all a time to get together and enjoy.  Your Georgian host will want to make sure you are comfortable, well-fed and happy. If in doubt over etiquette then either watch what others do or simply ask. Table manners are Continental, i.e. the fork is held in the left hand and the knife in the right while eating.Keep your hands visible when eating and try not to rest your elbows on the table.The oldest (or most honoured) guest is usually served first.Try all the dishes if you can.You will be offered second and third helpings and accepting them will please the host. Try therefore to take smaller first portions. Finish everything on your plate. Expect lively conversation during the meal.

Things to know:

The supra is a large dinner party involving many toasts. The toastmaster or “tamada” selects people to make long toasts. A horn full of wine is passed around the table for special toasts.

 

Georgian Dance

Georgian dance is a celebration of life and of Georgia’s rich and diverse culture. Each dance portrays the characteristics of the region in which it originated. The mountain dances, such as Khevsuruli or Mtiuluri, are different from valley or lowland dances — e.g. Acharuli and Davluri. The costumes are different for every dance and resemble the clothing of the past in different regions of Georgia.

 

 

Georgian dance owes a huge debt of gratitude to Iliko Sukhishvili and his wife Nino Ramishvili, founders of the Georgian National Ballet. It is due to their efforts that Georgian national dancing and music has become known in many parts of the world.The following dances are a selection of some of the most popular dances.

 

Samaia 

 The dance Samaia is performed by three women representing King Tamar, the first woman king in Georgia’s history.

The trinity idea in the dance represents King Tamar as a young princess, a wise mother and the powerful king. The soft and graceful movements create an impression of the beauty, glory and power that surrounded the King’s reign.

 

Simdi 

is an Ossetian dance performed by many couples. The costumes of both the male and female dancers have very long sleeves. The dance is a visual feast of black and white costumes and strict line formations.

 

 

Khorumi 

This war dance originated in the region of Achara, which is located in the southwestern region of Georgia. It dates to the period of the heroic war against the invading armies of the Turks, Mongolians, and other nations. Originally performed by a few men, the dance has grown in scale and thirty or forty dancers may participate.

 

 

 

Kartuli 

This elegant and very romantic courtship dance is probably the best known Georgian dance. Performed by a couple, the dance expresses chivalry between Georgian men and women. The man must not touch the woman, not even with his coat. He focuses on her as if she were the only woman in the whole world. His arms are at his chest, which is puffed like a peacock showing off for her and his feet move quickly in short, brushing steps. The woman keeps her eyes downcast in a demure manner at all times and glides like a swan on the smooth surface of a lake.

 

 

The dance consists of 5 distinct sections: the man invites the woman to join him (symbolic of a woman leaving her household to join his), they dance together, the man dances solo, the woman dances solo, and they conclude by dancing in unison.

Acharuli 

This dance originated in Achara region in the south-west of Georgia on the Black Sea coast. Unlike Kartuli, the relationship between men and women in this dance is more informal and lighthearted.

 

 

Khanjluri

 In this dance, shepherds, dressed in red chokhas (traditional men’s wear) compete with each other in the use of daggers. Performers alternate, displaying tremendous athleticism, courage and skill with daggers.
 
 

 

Svanuri 

 This energetic dance is typical of the Svans, a highland people who live in Svaneti region  in the northwestern part of Georgia.

 

 Mtiuluri  

Mtiuluri is a mountain “festival” dance. Similar to Khevsuruli, it involves amazing twists and jumps and turns. Two groups of young men compete to perform the most complicated movements. Then, the women dance. At the end, everyone dances in a dazzling finale.