Each region of Georgian has its own unique New Year’s traditions and dishes, but a grand supra feast is a must in all of them. A New Year’s supra must not only be more abundant than a regular one, but must also have a centrepiece of turkey satsivi (turkey in the walnut sauce).
You can also expect to see an abundance of fried and boiled meat, fish, mchadi (corn bread), vegetables, and, most importantly, khachapuri, churchkhela, dried fruit, wine that flows like water, and the ending symbol of Georgian New Year - gozinaki, a confection made from nuts and honey.
As we mentioned, every region also has its own unique dishes to add to the feast. In Kartli, they bake Basila bread and a pair of fate cakes for each family member. In Racha, you’ll encounter two Bachulis (cheesy muffins), one for the new year and one for the old. In Tusheti and Khevsureti, they distil vodka and brew beer, and Tushetians are also baking Kotori, a pastry made with clarified butter and cottage cheese. The Khevsurs instead bake Samekvleos, a pastry with a depiction of a crucifix, a bull, and an ear of corn. In Samtskhe-Javakheti, you’ll find numerous New Year’s cakes including “Bull’s Neck”, “Sheep’s Buzhuna”, and “Fate Bread”. In Samegrelo, you’ll find Megrelian satsivi, a suckling pig stuffed with kuchmachi, and Megrelian khachapuri with two cheeses prepared in honour of the New Year.
In Zemo (Upper) Ajara, New Year is celebrated in an especially interesting way. They boil corn on New Year to symbolise abundance and a good harvest. The feast itself is full of delicious kharcho, dolma, borano, sinori, and cookies made with honey and walnuts.
January 2nd is a magical day for Georgians, as it is the day when Bedoba is celebrated. According to tradition, how you spend this day is how you’re destined to spend the rest of the year.
The hero of this day is the Mekvle (called Kuchkha in Samegrelo and Mperkhavi in Ajara), who is the first person to enter a family’s home on Bedoba, bringing sweets and happiness. Naturally, happy and successful people are selected for this task, and they are richly feasted for it.
The Mekvle and a sumptuous feast of diverse foods are, of course, also important for the so-called Old New Year on the 13th-14th of January, which is called Kalanda in some parts of Georgia. Special crescent moon-shaped pies (also known as Gurian pies) made with cheese and boiled eggs are also baked for Old-Style New Year’s. In Samegrelo, there are “Khozo Kvaris”, boiled in milk.
If you’re lucky enough to be in Georgia to celebrate either of these holidays and you’re invited to a supra, be sure to loosen your belt and pace yourself!