Georgia is a country with many traditions. One of the undying traditions is one related to a Georgian feast.
“I can bravely say that you can’t find a place, where people drink as qualitative and as much wine as in Georgia.” – Shardeni.
Wine and vineyards…
Wine and vineyards have a very special place in the history of Georgia and they play an important role in the Christian religion as well. In the Orthodox Church, red wine is associated with the blood of Christ. What about the vine, it is mentioned in the legend of spreading Christianity in Georgia. As Saint Nino made a cross from the vine and her own hair, she started preaching Christianity in every region of Georgia.
Several famous folk music songs was created to embrace and show the importance of the vine. From these songs, the most famous is Demetre’s (Son of the king David the builder) song “you are the vine.” Even on the walls of the oldest churches and monasteries, you can see the beautiful ornaments of the vine.
Archaeological excavations revealed that in Georgia tradition of grape wine-making and growing vineyards started 8000 years ago. The oldest jar found is dated about 5,980 BC, which is the earliest evidence of grape wine-making in the world.
“Tamada”- a head of a feast, is also a very important topic for Georgians as this tradition is centuries old. There was a dispute about dating its origins, but after archaeological excavations in Vani near Kutaisi, this dispute was finally solved. They found a bronze statue of Tamada with a special bowl in his hand, which is a symbol of a Georgian feast. This statue dates back to 7th century BC. This fact shows the importance of Tamada and how old wine drinking culture in Georgia is.
Georgian feast tradition is simple: wine, Georgian food, toasts and singing. For Georgians, this tradition is not just eating and drinking. Georgian feast is a very important ritual where you have a chance to fully express your personality and feelings. In this process, you can become friends with even strangers, speak about life and feel each other's good aura. Georgian feast is a tradition where people show their hearts to each other, express sympathy and real feelings. And of course, the main hero of the feast is Tamada.
According to Georgian traditions, Tamada is chosen by the head of a family and he gets the most honourable place on the table. Usually, Tamada can be a person who is very interesting and influential speaker and talented in singing. Toasts depend on the reason of the feast. If it is a happy feast, Tamada says happy toasts and also sings Georgian folk songs. Accordingly, if a feast is mourning then we have different toasts and of course, no songs. So he is in charge of a feast and decides how it goes.
Recently, Georgian traditional feast (supra) and Tamada traditions got intangible cultural heritage status. Georgian feast is a symbol of a Georgian spirit.
Wine Cellar Numisi, KakhetiVelistsikhe, Georgia
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