Georgia . . . For many, this word evokes images of a namesake United States state, and probably very few would recall a tiny republic squeezed between the Black Sea and the Caspian Seas. Some might recognize it as a founding member of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics or a turbulent country from recent news headlines and especially in light of the events of the Rose Revolution of 2003 that were reported across the entire world. But those, whose minds are open to the world of myths and history, could imagine the defiant Titan Prometheus chained to one of the Caucasian mountains, punished for bringing Fire, a symbol of the sacred knowledge, to humanity; or they could visualize the Greek Argonauts sailing to the legendary Colchis and stealing the Golden Fleece. Indeed, it is a country with an ancient past, thousands of years of winemaking, 3,000 years of statehood, and almost two millennia of Christianity.
A favorite story of Georgians relates how God came upon the Georgians only after he had divided all the countries of the world to other nationalities. The Georgians were in typically festive mood and invited the Creator to join them in wine and song ! The Lord so enjoyed himself that He decided to give these merry and carefree people the one spot on the earth that He had reserved for Himself - the sunny valleys and hills that lie to the south of the Great Caucasus Mountains. The Lord has lavished great bounties on this land. It is a land of contrasts, of savage mountains snow-topped and swept with wild gales, of tumultuous rivers and dark forests; and of vast, warm plains and pasturage and valleys soft with tropical heat. Its mountains are stored with minerals and its valleys are smiling with corn and flowers.
Due to its special position between Europe and Asia - at the crossroads of peoples, cultures and languages - since early times Georgia has been a place of passage and enormous migrations. Peace has been permanently sought by the peoples in this part of world, but without much success. It has been an arena of great historical dramas, which have largely determined the destiny and history of its inhabitants. The life of Georgians was turned into a constant and tragic fight for the preservation of their land and liberty. Powerful conquerors have desired to possess this
land but one by one they passed away while Georgia lived on and over the centuries an original culture, rich traditions, and unique way of life had originated in this land.
Georgians. . . . In the early 20th century, a Englishman, close friends with
the famous Georgian commander Leo Kereselidze, left an interesting
characterization of the Georgians that is worth citing
"They are a strange people and in many ways difficult to understand. Their origin and the origin of their language is going back to millenniums. They are fighters always, chivalrous, brave to folly, gay, haphazard, reckless, taking good and bad as equal chances, and while with success they grow indolent, defeat braces them to effort. Virile and handsome, both men and women are delight in all joy and in danger. They are generous, spontaneous without any morbid mysticism and are warm-hearted and yet proud as Lucifer. They are fierce and vindictive if their Honor is touched, hot-headed, quarrelsome and quick to lash out and hit at the smallest insult - and without counting the cost: tireless in revenge and as often fantastically generous in forgiving. To talk, to discuss, to spend hours in amiable conversation or argument is a habit of Georgians: they get an active pleasure from talking and often for them words are more real than actions. They are never bothered with saving a few cents by bargaining. When they have money they spent it with open hand, surrounded by tens of friends and relatives, carelessly and without calculation, trusting to the gods to bring them more. The fondness of celebration is in their blood and is evidenced in the patterns of incredible hospitality - the groaning board of welcome, the elaborate speeches of the Tamada (the master of the feast) as food and drink show no sign of ceasing to fill plates and glasses, the week-long festivities that are held on every
occasion... Intense individualists they lack in discipline and self-control, and resent orders or being commanded. Yet above all they are filled with a great patriotism, Love of Georgia and Liberty so intense that no defeat and no disaster can destroy or temporarily break them!"
So, welcome to the land of Georgians...