Every single Georgian family prepares for Christmas and the New Year with a special excitement. Christian tradition considers Christmas as a bigger day than the New Year as the latter is often carried on practicing pagan rituals. However, it's equally loved in Georgia and the Soviet period has also contributed in such a special popularity of the New Year.
People of pre-Christian era used to conduct special rituals and prayed for Aguna – idol of fertility and prosperity to give the fruitful and wealthy year.
If European countries are setting Christmas tree, Georgians have traditionally been putting out Chichilaki – symbol of life and fertility. Chichilaki is cut out of hazelnut tree branches. People hang sweets, fruits and berries on its peeled wavy brunches. This ancient tradition originates from the Western Georgia and with Christian influence Chichilaki was later called as "Beards of Basil" in connection with the name of the Saint Basil.
All Georgian regions had the same tradition – a group of men would gather, walk around their districts singing songs and congratulate Christmas to every family. The families would give some bread, eggs, dried fruits, sweets and even money. This tradition still exists in a slightly edited form.
Dishes for the festive dinner varied from region to region of Georgia, however, pork and poultry meals were must-haves everywhere. People also put various grains, honey and dried fruit on their festive tables.
One of the major New Year rituals in Georgia is a "Mekvle" tradition. Mekvle is a family's first guest on the first day of the New Year and people believe that the person will bring prosperity and wealth to the family.