Alegroba Festival

The history of the Alegroba holiday goes back to the times of the last prince of Guria, Mamia V Gurieli (1789-1826), whose palace was the European cultural salon of all times in West Georgia. No one was surprised by seeing foreigners in Ozurgeti at this time; Italian missionaries and German itinerant comedians were also visiting the city. One Gurian let an Italian comedian stay in his house and organised performances. Therefore, unsurprisingly, Alegroba - a word with Italian content and of Italian origin - became a funny, diverse and massive local celebration.

Fromthe beginning, Alegroba, being a public spectacle, has had in Guria a charitable character. On the day of festival, every family donate food to the organisers and there is the raffle the money of which goes entirely to public and charitable needs. Alegroba was not organized only in cities but also in villages and some festivals, such as festivals in Bakhvi, Likhauri, Shemokmedi or Kviriketi, were particularly famous. The great tradition lasted from the 1880s of the 19th century until 1941 and was interrupted by the World War II. Information about early Alegrobas is preserved in old newspapers and diaries.

Alegroba has been celebrated for years and in different times, it was celebrated by the old Gurians with moustaches, dressed in folk costumes and wearing satin blouses[AH1] , by the most beautiful girls in leggings and headbands and by girls dancing to cheerful foxtrot and waltz music.There has been a lot of fun, people walking around, girls and boys meeting, “love mail”, “barrel of fate”, a dance competition. Elders from Ozurgeti remember that when the most beautiful girl of the festival was chosen, the famous cake of Kadeishvili's wife was placed in a phaeton decorated with white roses and brought to the Alegroba as a prize.[AH2] Many girls and boys found their love and changed their lives during this holiday.


While the world celebrates the New Year once a year, the Orthodox celebrate it twice – in an old and new style - on the 1st and the 14th of January. The New Year on the 14th of January is celebrated with different traditions, rituals and namesin different parts of Georgia. It has become a tradition for many centuries.

The local Gurian people call the old New Year "Kalanda". The main attribute of Kalanda are the chichilaki made of a large hazelnut stick. They are associated with the name of St. Basil. In Guria, it is also called "Basil's White Beard”.

In Guria, from ancient times to the present day, the whole family has woken up early in the morning on the Kalanda old New Year. The men would grab the pig's head, Basil's New Year's cake ("kweri"), a festive plate with various fruits and sweets, decorated chichilaki and an empty jug and head to the cellar. After entering the cellar, the head of the family would silently kneel on the ground, put the New Year's plate next to him, pour the wine, pray to St. Basil and wish the family happiness. Thenhe would take a nut from the plate and beg St. Basil to fill his family with all goodness. If, after breaking the nut, it turns out to be empty, which is believed to be a sign of unhappiness, the head of the family would beg St. Basil again so that his family would not look like an empty nut.

Later, the family would go back home and the visitors, Mekvle, would come and knock three times on the door, saying: "Open the door!". The family would answer three times: "What are you bringing?". Then, Mekvle would say the wishes and tell what they bring on the tray. The family would open the door and the New Year celebration would begin.

Transfiguration Day and traditional horse racing in Bakhmaro

Every year on the 19th of August, a service is held in the Church of the Transfiguration in Bakhmaro. At the same time, marking the end of the season, a traditional horse race is held, which dates back to the beginning of the 20th century and is attended by riders from various Georgian cities. This is when both local holidaymakers and invited guests gather in Bakhmaro. There is an exhibition of folk handicrafts where visitors can buy local products and have the opportunity to taste Gurian cuisine. A final concert takes place at the end of the event.

 Lelo in Lanchkhuti

In the Shukhutperdi battle Georgians of the same blood and tribe, but of different faiths fought against each other. The winner traditionally mourns the losers once they are respectfully burried in the cemetery by their relatives and friends. Shukhuti Lelo was clearly linked to the Shukhutperdi battle153 years ago is. The ritual fighting in Shukhuti village on Easter day is to commemorate the battle.[AH3] 

"Lelo" is an ancient Georgian word and means “to take by force”. It is a synonym of a battle. In the Shukhuti fighting aleather ball weighing one foot [AH4] (16 kilograms) is used. The ball is filled with sand and sawdust. In the old days, before the ball was fully sewn, aguna juice was poured into it on the eve of Easter. Aguna is a Christian wine festival derived from an ancient pagan ritual that is now forgotten. [AH5] Aguna is a mixture of black wine, honey, pomegranate juice. The winner is the one who crosses the border line with his players.

The finale of the game or the prize for winning is always the same. Both sides pledge to carry the ball to the grave of a deceased young man or a highly respected person, say a prayer and make a toast of confidence. Representatives of the winning team go to the grave with the losers and toast the soul of the deceased.

"Lelo" has been repeating the local miraculous battle ritual for over 150 years.

 [AH1]There is the information in the original text that the blouses were decorated with “tsar”, no information what that means, what this is related to

 [AH2]unintelligible fragment, but transformed to be intelligible, however it needs to be confirmed if the meaning has been kept


 [AH3]unintelligible fragment

 [AH4]Foot is not a weight unit. Should it be “pood”?

 [AH5]Is this an important information here? It seems not to  fit.

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