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Borjomi mineral water |  © tomasz przechlewski / Flickr
Borjomi mineral water | © tomasz przechlewski / Flickr

11 Habits You'll Only Understand if You're Georgian

Picture of Baia Dzagnidze
Updated: 1 January 2018

If you’ve ever spent time in Georgia, you’ll have noticed a number of bizarre quirks that are unique to the nation. However, if you don’t know anyone from Georgia and haven’t yet visited, check out these habits that only Georgians will understand.

Everything revolves around food

Georgians love to eat! Every occasion, be it a birthday, anniversary, wedding, or even a funeral, is based around food. Supra, as Georgians call the table setting, is an integral part of every celebration. Food is laid out in the middle, with plates around the edge of the table. There are at least ten different meals spread out, and each food is served on multiple plates depending on the number of people sitting on the table. This way food is within reach for everyone, and each person eats whatever they desire.

Georgian cuisine | © Baia Dzagnidze

‘Not being hungry’ is unacceptable in Georgian families

When you are invited into a Georgian family home, be sure to go with an empty stomach, as a Georgian will always offer you something to eat. This isn’t just hospitality for special guests, it’s a common thing for locals as well, even if simply visiting our parents’ house. Be aware that manners here dictate that you’ll need to eat something when offered, out of the respect to the host.

Public holidays are the norm

Georgians love to celebrate everything, and every significant day seems to be a public holiday. Thus, there are more than 15 public holidays in Georgia, most of them are related to Christianity and the saints. Sometimes, those holidays are within days of each other, so many people take additional days off and enjoy a mini ‘annual leave.’

There are special meals on special holidays

Georgians make special meals for individual holidays. For instance, on St. Barabara’s Day on December, 17, it is a rule to bake lobiani, a black bean pie, while Christmas on January, 7 calls for guruli gvezeli – a variety of khachapuri but with boiled eggs.

Everyone is named Giorgi, Mariam, or Nino

These are the most common names in Georgia, after the main saints of the country. Thus, everyone knows at least 50 Giorgis, 30 Ninos and 20 Mariams.

Newlyweds live with the groom’s family

Georgia is a patriarchal country where it is common for a family of four or five to leave together in a two or three-room apartment. Once a couple are married, it is a common custom that they begin their married life living with the husband’s parents. Though there are now a number of youngsters preferring to rent their own apartment and live alone, it’s not common practice quite yet.

People ask really personal questions

Oh boy! Many Georgians like to know everything, and ask too many personal questions that are none of their business. The questions can encompass anything from how much you paid for a particular thing, what your total income is, or why you’re not having a baby after being married for a month!

Never sitting with your back to someone

Never sit with your back to someone without apologizing – it’s an unwritten rule of being rude if you do so.

Namtsetsoba, or ‘leftovers day’

The ‘leftovers day’ in Georgia is the second day of a wedding, and takes place in the house of either the bride’s or the groom’s parents (more often the latter). The supra is laid out from the leftover meals from the previous day’s wedding celebrations, hence the name.

Fate is something to be celebrated

Georgians are a firm believer in fate. Therefore, they have bedoba, a day dedicated to it marked on January, 2. It’s believed that however a person spends this day, is reflected in the day as a whole. Thus, everyone tries to make a special day out of it, giving work a wide berth and instead taking part in fun activities and just enjoying spending time with friends, families and loved ones.

Mineral water cures everything

Georgia is a country full of natural springs. Most of these mineral waters are believed to have curing effects. For instance, the number one hangover cure is to drink Borjomi mineral water. Some even drink it to cure nausea or food poisoning.