Shida Kartli Day

A view toward the castle; check out the kids using the tower as a climbing wall!

The first Sunday in October is Shida Kartli Day, which involves an enormous street fair in the center of Gori. It is recognizably a street fair, with a renaissance festival flavor at times (as in the regional costumes and rock climbing up the side of the castle… in America they would have made a fake castle wall to do that on), but there are certain marked differences, so that it took me a few hours to figure out quite how things worked, and even then it was only because another volunteer who’s been ere longer told me. People from the surrounding villages come into town on Shida Kartli day and set up pavilion style booths with folk art and supra tables, usually one booth area for each participating village. The crafts venders are just as in America — they bring their products, sell them from tables, and sometimes demonstrate how they’re made (felting is really big here; I kind of want to learn how to do it). The food, however, was enigmatic, because rather than venders, they had laid out supra tables, as they would on a feast day at home, covered with fruit, zvadi, and wine glasses. I had expected the food to be for sale, and yet it was not put out in set portions as it would be in America, nor were there any signs. When, after a few hours, I met up with some other TLG people who have been here somewhat longer, they explained: the food is not for sale at all; one simply walks up to a booth and starts talking with the people there. After a minute or so they will offer a glass of wine, with which one should say a toast to one’s friends, Sakartvelo; perhaps their village and one’s own. Then if they have anything to eat they’ll insist on you eating some of that as well. Be careful, though; they will all offer homemade wine, whether they offer food as well or not, and one is expected to drink the whole glass in a toast or two, so if you stay too long or go to too many places you’re certain to get drunk, and then still be climbing up and down the castle hill and trying to speak in kartlish (it’s like spanglish for Georgians) with noticeably hazy spacial and language skills. Not that I’m saying this from personal experience or anything…

Girls singing traditional folk songs

I thought that the festival was really interesting, especially the moving supra part of it. I can’t imagine under what circumstances Americans would have a city-wide feast wherein one would just walk up to people, talk to them, and be given free wine and pork skewers. We might do such a thing in a church, perhaps, or for poor people… but not like here, simply because we’re neighbors and we want to love one another.

Gori Juari, which means “Gori’s cross” — the first people who insted I drink their wine and eat their churchkhiela paste were from Skxra, down the hill a bit from the church.

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