Holidays are just around the corner, and it is high time to plan how to spend holidays. What is more important is to find a place where you can enjoy your days and have fun. In the South Caucasus, the New Year is one of the most beloved and popular holidays that is usually celebrated at home with family and friends. Here are some interesting traditions and facts about the New Year holidays in Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan, as well as some tips to celebrate the holidays.
New Year in Armenia
Armenians take the holiday seriously and get ready for it since the beginning of December. Hosts begin to stock up with products for the New Year's table, make up the menu and plan New Year's decoration. Traditionally Armenians celebrate the New Year at home, and right after the chimes, the oldest in the family hosts friends and relatives. This tradition of visiting friends and family members on New Year Eve has its purpose. By tradition, all the negative thoughts are left behind and all offences are forgiven. The tradition of hosting and paying a visit means you forgive and you apologize.
In Armenia, the New Year hab been celebrated on the first of January since the XVIII century, before that in pagan Armenia there were two holidays Amanor and Navasard. Instead of the traditional New Year tree, the house was decorated with a "tree of life" made of wheat straw. The tree was decorated with apples, sprigs of cinnamon and knitted toys. Instead of Santa Claus, Armenians had Kahand Papi visited the houses with a bag full of gifts. Of course, all these traditions have remained in history, and now the Armenians are celebrating New Year with a Christmas tree and Santa Claus.
The main intrigue of the New Year is a traditional festive table, and the richer it is, the more successful the coming year will be. Several traditional festive dishes are a must on the festive table. The main one is the traditional dolma with grape leaves. Every housewife believes her dolma is the best and you won’t escape treat and in the end, you should confirm that her dolma is truly the best. Important attributes of the New Year's table are dried fruits, gata, traditional meat snacks of basturma and sujukh, Armenian cognac and wine.
Winter holidays are usually spent in the ski resort Tsaghkadzor, where you can combine active sports with fun holidays. Due to the high demand, there are practically no free rooms in hotels and guesthouses. Therefore, rooms are booked a month before the holidays.
New Year is celebrated in Yerevan on a grand scale. The main Christmas tree of the city adorns the central Republic Square, a festive concert is organized on the square, and at midnight the sky is illuminated by the lights of the New Year's fireworks. Young people mostly celebrate New Year in clubs and pubs.
New Year in Georgia
New Year in Georgia is no less bright and interesting holiday. Even though the New Year is celebrated according to modern traditions, some things have remained unchanged. In Georgian houses, chichilaki, a tree made of hazel twigs, is placed along with the Christmas tree. Chichilaki is decorated with sweets and chips from peeled branches. Chichilaki is usually kept in the house until January 19, after which the tree is kept in the wine cellar for the next year.
Another interesting tradition is the first guest in the house. The first person to step into the house is “mekvle” - the person who will bring good luck to the house. Usually, mekvle is a close friend or relative. As a symbol of prosperity and fertility, mekvle brings sweets.
The day of fate “Bedoba” is celebrated on January 2. This day needs to be spent in the best way with family and friends. Georgians believe that the year will be the way you spend Bedoba.
The main dishes of the Georgian New Year's table are satsivi, chicken with a delicate creamy sauce and nuts, a fried pig and kebab. Traditional sweets are assorted dried fruits, churchkhela and gozinaki.
Just like in Armenia, the New Year in Georgia can be combined with outdoor activities in one of the ski resorts Gudauri or Bakuriani, or you can stay in the capital and celebrate it in one of the clubs or pubs on Shardeni Street. There is always a festive mood on this street. There are all kinds of wine bars, restaurants, pubs, and clubs on both sides of the streets, and regardless of the time of the year, there is always a festive mood on Shardeni.
New Year in Azerbaijan
The New Year or Novruz is celebrated in the Muslim world in March. On December 31, Azerbaijanis celebrate the holiday of the outgoing year, and this holiday also has its traditions. According to ancient customs, men gather in the house of the oldest member of the family for evening prayer. The host of the house serves the main dish of the holiday, milk pilaf. After dinner, men and women gather for the traditional rite of spraying with water thus washing away all bad thoughts to meet the New Year only with positive thoughts.
On holidays, all Azerbaijanis keep their doors open and welcome guests. By tradition, the eldest son greets guests and washes their hands with flower water. For four days, men visit relatives and friends, and on the fifth day, women begin to celebrate.
Of course, not everyone adheres to the ancient traditions of celebrating the outgoing year, and today you can see the New Year tree and Santa Claus in the houses, and young people celebrating the holiday in the clubs.
Baku on New Year's holidays turns into a city of lights. Every evening, a laser show begins on the Flame Towers. It is also worth taking a walk in the National Seaside Park and riding Italian gondolas along with the festive lights. Each hotel and restaurant prepares a New Year program and a gala dinner.
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