Easter in Georgia

My parents called me on Sunday to wish me a happy Easter.

Honestly, if it weren’t for facebook, I would have forgotten. I kept seeing all these Easter posts on facebook, and I asked my girlfriend (who, for convenience I will now refer to as T) if it was Easter, and she explained that it was “Catholic” Easter. Which I guess extends to Protestants as well. Point is, Easter in Georgia wasn’t last Sunday, it’s this Sunday. T is going to Kutaisi to visit her mom, and I’m all alone in the house for four days. I’m mostly recovered from my cold, and I intend to hunker down and get some serious work done on blogging, online classes, and other studies and pastimes.

Yesterday I watched TV for like eight straight hours. Yeah, I know, I’m not off to a great start.

Easter was always one of those holidays I never really saw the point of. T asked me what Catholics eat on Easter and I tried to say a combination of “I don’t know” and “whatever they want” that came out sounding like I was having a stroke and couldn’t move half of my mouth. What do Catholics eat on Easter? I couldn’t tell you. I guess… lamb?

Oh, right – candy. On Easter we eat candy. Easter was like the second candy anchor. Easter and Halloween were the holidays that made me, as a kid, think that candy was my sacred birthright as opposed to the reason why I didn’t lose my baby fat until… well… ever. Religious people go to church like every day for a week before Easter, and Easter is supposedly the most important Catholic holiday, but clearly Christmas is more important.

Now, Passover – that’s a holiday. I can tell you what we eat on passover. Matzah, and lots of it. Hard-boiled eggs. Parsley dipped in saltwater. Fresh grated horseradish over sephardic charoset makes for the hands-down best Hillel sandwich. Brisket. Roast chicken. Matzah ball soup. There’s an orange on the passover plate, and the story of why has changed and multiplied over the last decade. I turn down the gefilte fish because I don’t eat fish. I turn down the kugel because I can’t stand it. I do not turn down the wine, and I handily finish not just four cups, but eight or ten. Passover is almost like a Georgian holiday. Now that I think about it, satsivi would make a great addition to a passover table. At the end of the feast, when everybody has had a lot to eat and a lot to drink, we sing. Georgians would love it.

In Georgia, apparently people take the day after Easter to visit the graves of their dearly departed.

When I was a kid we dyed Easter eggs. Our parents hid them around the house, and we had to go find them. It was a great tradition. I loved coloring the eggs and then hunting for them, and I thought it was horrifying that after all that, my parents would eat them. My parents used to tell me to let my sister find some of the eggs, because I was older than her and competitive and could see and reach more places and they didn’t want her to feel left out or left behind. I wish I had understood that as a child. I see the same dynamics with my students, now – they have no empathy for each other, and it’s not because they’re bad – it’s just because that part of their brain hasn’t really developed yet.

In Georgia, they hard-boil eggs, and every family member gets an egg, and they knock their eggs into each others’ eggs until they are all broken but one, and then they brag about how many eggs they broke. It seems like an interesting tradition. In Georgia, they dye Easter eggs, but instead of various glorious pastels, they just dye them red. I’m not sure why, but I’m not sure why our eggs apparently come from a bunny, so in this case the Georgians actually have the upper hand with logic.

It’s fascinating, how we interpret religious holidays for children – children who are too young to care about things like sin and rebirth and fertility. It’s interesting how we keep children interested in rituals that they don’t need or want. Rituals, I think, satisfy another part of the human mind that hasn’t quite developed yet in children. Children hunt for eggs and long for candy; adults go to church and surround themselves with symbols of death and torture to celebrate the incipient spring. Children break eggs, adults visit graves. It’s no wonder I lost interest in Easter as soon as I was old enough to buy my own candy.

Holidays are a nice time to see family – well, anytime is a nice time to see family, but holidays are like a prompt, a reminder to see your family. They tell you, “go see your family, you haven’t done it in far too long.” Being away from family, the holidays lose even that significance. What is Easter, when stripped of childhood, of ritual, of family?

It’s just another Sunday. It’s just another sign of how out of touch I am with my life before Georgia.

Last year my friends and I had an Easter Egg Hunt in Telavi. That was fun, until it wasn’t – wandering around an abandoned stadium, looking for spots of color among the mushrooms blooming on the old bleachers and the used condoms and empty beer bottles scattered around the boxes. I don’t know if we even found all of the eggs before the morning dew from the grass soaked through our sneakers and the chill soaked into our bones. It was a melancholy chapter in a fantastic Easter vacation spent wandering through Kakheti looking for adventures, trying to squeeze as much out of life as we could for those few days.

This year I nursed a cold. I watched some TV, and went to bed at 9:30 because I felt light-headed. So what? Just another Sunday.

Today I think I’ve finally got this cold beat. Maybe I’ll celebrate spring the old-fashioned way – take a walk in the woods. I live a few blocks away from a big mountain with nice trails that lead up to a beautiful lake, which I can walk to in probably about an hour. Convenient, that.

Happy Easter!

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5 Responses to Easter in Georgia

  1. Tatia says:

    “red eggs” has a story. something like: the blood of jesus christ dropped on an egg and painted it red. that’s why Georgians dye eggs red.

  2. Georgian Easter sounds a lot like Greek Orthodox Easter. I remember the eggbreaking.

    • panoptical says:

      It sort of is. Georgians are Eastern Orthodox, like Greeks, Russians, and Armenians.

      • pasumonok says:

        there are theological differences between armenian , georgian and greek churches, but it’s too boring to get into it.
        anyway, geogrians out of country were asked not to visit greek orthodox churches, as they are not proper πŸ™‚
        we are closest to russian church–views, traditions, rituals.
        i am glad u are feeling better. it took me two weeks after the flu to finally feel like i am me again.

  3. Pingback: Spring Vacation, Easter Break, a New Season « From Here to Bulgaria

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