Celebrating Christmas in Georgia – The holiday which unites the entire country
05 January, 2018
Christmas has always been a special celebration in Georgia. This is the day when people express love, warmth and support in the name of Jesus Christ. On this day each Georgian has a special festive mood. The streets are decorated with beautiful Christmas illuminations and one can hear Christmas carols sung around.
geotv.ge
In Georgia, Christmas is celebrated on January 7

In Georgia, Christmas is celebrated on January 7 according to the Julian Calendar and it marks the end of the
great fast. Believers usually meet Christmas in the church where special service is held and only afterwards they go and celebrate this day together with their family members and close people.
geotv.ge
Tbilisi Christmas lights. Photo courtesy Giorgi Shermazanashvili

One of the inseparable parts of this day is Traditional Christmas march called Alilo (named after the Georgian Christmas chant that is sang during the procession ). As a rule the march starts in the morning after the special Christmas service held in the churches. Orthodox Christians throughout Georgia take part in this beautiful Christmas event.
geotv.ge
Alilo procession

Thousands of people participate in Alilo: the clergy of different churches, parishioners and children wearing the Stikari - a gold, white or red colored robe worn by a priest’s assistant. They carry crosses and icons through the streets and collect food, sweets and other things which are later distributed to the people in need and orphanages. Anyone can join the march or donate some food, products or other items. The procession was banned during Soviet times but was restored in the 1990s.
geotv.ge
Alilo procession in Tbilisi

As for Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, here the procession begins at Rose Revolution Square, moves along Rustaveli Avenue and ends at the Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi.

During Alilo, kids are dressed like angels and adults like Shepherds, similar to the scene of magi visiting infant Jesus in the stable. According to the Holly Gospel, the birth of Christ took place in a stable, surrounded by farm animals in Bethlehem. Shepherds from the fields surrounding Bethlehem were told of the birth by an angel, and were the first to see the child.
geotv.ge
Children love to take part in Alilo, as they get a lot of sweets from locals

The Gospel of Matthew also describes a visit by several magi, or astrologists, who brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the infant Jesus. The visitors were told to follow a mysterious star, commonly known as the Star of Bethlehem, believing it to proclaim the birth of the messiah.

Spiritual songs play an important role in the Christmas tradition in Georgia. As a rule, participants of Alilo perform Christmas carols during the procession.

Christmas trees serve as an important attribute at Georgian Christmas, as well. Specifically for this celebration, chichilaki -  a traditional Georgian Christmas Tree is made from dried hazelnut branches that are shaved to form a small coniferous tree. Georgians believe that the shaved tree resembles the famous beard of St. Basil the Great, who is thought to visit people during Christmas similar to the Santa Claus tradition. For Georgians, Chichilaki is considered to be the tree of life, symbolizing hope and belief.
geotv.ge
Chichilaki, Georgian version of Christmas tree

Every Christmas, Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia the second delivers a Christmas service together with members of the Holy Synod and other priests at Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi. The Patriarch addresses the parish with his Christmas epistle at the Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi. Special services are held in all churches throughout Georgia. Christmas concludes the 40-day fast that traditionally starts on November 28. This is a time of reflection, self-restraint and inner healing in the sacrament of confession.
geotv.ge
Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi

Parishioners prepare themselves for receiving the Eucharist by being on fast and reading prayers. The service starts late at night on January 6 and lasts till morning 4 or 5 am on January 7. After the communion, everyone congratulates each other on the birth of Christ and the leader of the church delivers speech in relation to Christmas in front of the people.
geotv.ge
Christmas in Georgia is a day of celebration, joy, good food, family and friends

Christmas in Georgia is a day of celebration, joy, good food, family and friends. Church services, Christmas carols and an entire country united for Alilo processions make Christmas in Georgia a beautiful and unique celebration.

Related stories:

How Georgians Celebrate the New Year and Christmas

Which food each region of Georgia offers at Christmas

Gurian patty-cake - Georgian Christmas dish
Print
Other Stories
Tbilisi City Hall gifts food stand to a teenager street vendor with cerebral palsy
Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze and Deputy Tbilisi Mayor Ms. Sophio Khuntsaria have gifted a food stand
Pamela Anderson rolling around in chair in Georgian designer’s cat sunglasses
Pamela Anderson, famous Canadian American actress and model has appeared in the chic sunglasses by internationally acclaimed Georgian designer George Keburia.
Shocking footage from accident site in Gudauri - Ropeway breakdown
A ski lift accident in Georgia’s eastern Gudauri resort,in particular at Sadzele 5 lift, has left 8 people with injuries.
Ski lift in Gudauri goes out of control
The ski lift in Gudauri winter resort in Georgia has broke down in the aftermath of which several people have been injured.
British singer Tony O'Malley performs Georgian song
Popular British singer Tony O'Malley performance in Georgian language has recently gone viral on social media.
Georgian singer Keta Topuria performs in video supporting Putin in elections
Russian-based Georgian singer Keta Topuria, lead singer of A-Studio pop band,
How to attract young people to choose agriculture over university
Young people are needed in Georgia’s agriculture but are leaving the rural areas for the city. By modernizing the Vocational Education system, an internationally funded programme makes efforts to attract Georgia’s youth to stay and work in the villages.
Georgian photographer depicts the creeping borders in her country
Photographer Daro Sulakauri has recently published a photo project on the villages bordering the breakaway regions of South Ossetia (Tskhinvali Region) and Abkhazia.
Orthodox Christmas celebrations in Georgia
Like many Eastern European countries, Georgia started the celebrations for Christmas Eve during the night of the 6th of January.
Tbilisi, city full of lights
It happened practically overnight: Tbilisi has dressed up for Christmas.
Georgian singer Natia Todua wins The Voice of Germany
The 21-year-old Georgian singer Natia Todua is the new “Voice of Germany”.
Famous Georgian pianist and Orlando Bloom playing piano goes viral
World-renowned Georgian pianist Khatia Buniatishvili has again been spotlighted together with popular actor Orlando Bloom.
Georgian dancers performing battle dance Khorumi in Tbilisi street
When walking around Tbilisi, capital of Georgia, apart from picturesque views, one might witness an unusual scene.
Young Georgian singer Natia Todua’s great success in German Voice
21-year-old Natia Todua's performance in German New Voice captivated judges and the whole Georgia.
World’s first air-cleaning device created by Georgians
The Huffington Post, popular American news and opinion website, publishes an interview with young Georgian entrepreneurs
Georgian Wine Festival 2017 – Grand celebration of authentic local wines in Tbilisi
Georgian Wine Festival is yet another surprise for wine enthusiasts,especially Georgian wine lovers that one should not miss.
Street Art in Georgia - Underground walkways become awesome Galleries
Street art is gaining more and more popularity in Georgia, like in many other countries throughout the world.
Vice-President of the European Investment Bank explores Georgia’s highland
Last month nearly a million international travelers visited Georgia
 Pioneers of astrophotography and first remote robotic observatory in Georgia
Astrophotography - for some it is associated with science while others perceive it as a form of art,
Rihanna wearing Georgian designer Demna Gvasalia’s outfit in her new video clip
Famous pop singer Rihanna who is a big fan of Georgian designer Demna Gvasalia,
  Independence Day – The birth of Democratic Republic of Georgia
Today Georgia marks the day of a highest significance in the country’s history.
So-called Night Wolves appear at Vake Park, Tbilisi
So-called Night Wolves, Russian motorcycle club, has arrived at Vake Park.
“There is a lot of creativity going on” - US TV station Erie News visits Palitra Media
In the frames of the media-program conducted by IREX and US Embassy to Georgia,
Beyond imagination: Microbial art by Georgian student
Ani Tsitsishvili is a 20-year-old student of Georgia’s Agricultural University veterinary department and she’s very fond of microbiology.
Orion – Georgian alternative musical band on the scene
More and more Georgian alternative musical bands are emerging on the scene.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
GEL Exchange Rate
Convertor
25.04.2018
26.04.2018
USD
1
USD
2.4791
2.4787
EUR
1
EUR
3.0282
3.0243
GBP
1
GBP
3.4564
3.4568
RUB
100
RUB
4.0254
4.0102
Other Stories
Construction of two-story overpass without relevant calculations might cause traffic jams in Tbilisi,
Famous blogger and designer Sofia Kozhevnikova from Russia describes her trip to Georgia.
On May 1, 2018 new regulations on smoking tobacco will come into force in Georgia
Another citizen of Georgia, Akaki Misireli, who was kidnapped by so-called border guards near the occupation line in Gori municipality,
So-called border guards kidnapped another citizen of Georgia near the occupation line in Gori municipality.
The demonstration protesting construction of two-story overpass road was held on April 19 at Tbilisi City Hall building,
New highway bridge at the crossroads of Tsintsadze and Kartozia Streets near the old hippodrome in Tbilisi is planned to be constructed.
Parliament of Georgia has unanimously endorsed amendments aiming at stepping up efforts in the fight against the criminal world.
4 Georgian so-called thieves-in-law and 34 members of the Georgian criminal gang were detained
Gwen Stefani, the No Doubt diva made jaws drop wearing a mod looking mini-dress by famous Georgian designer David Koma,
GEL Exchange
USD
1
USD
2.4787
EUR
1
EUR
3.0243
GBP
1
GBP
3.4568
RUB
100
RUB
4.0102