November days have passed by and they left memories of intensive study, as well as celebration of 2 great holidays. One was American holiday of Thanksgiving. The other was Georgian – Orthodox Christian St. George day (Giorgoba) on November 23. It is one of the greatest religious holidays in Georgia. I saw that there are many differences between American and Georgian ways of celebrations. At the same time, I also witnessed similarities. In both countries these days bring family members together. If someone is far away, in the remote city, he or she eagerly arrives home to attend family dinner. It happens in both countries. This may sound amazing to many people, as there is a stereotype in the world that Americans do not value family and they are more prone to free relations. Forget about such views! That is far from the reality! Thanksgiving is a day when all family members come together. They share stories about their personal life and new experience. Pray is a part of their meeting.
Thanksgiving is dedicated to the memorable day of the past, when Native Americans saved lives of newcomer colonists. They brought food for starved settlement. Thanksgiving celebration is on the fourth Thursday of November. traditional attributes of the thanksgiving dinner are turkey, pumpkin pie, different vegetables and sweet potatoes.
St. George is considered to be a patron of Georgia. It is pictured even on the state emblem. Celebration mainly refers to orthodox Christians, although this is a day off for every citizen of Georgia, despite his or her religious belonging. So St. George’s day is more than religious holiday there. It is national holiday. People attend service in the churches and afterwards spend time with their friends and family. Typical church service is accompanied with polyphonic spiritual songs.
I attended thanksgiving dinner in the Celebration Church in Akron, Ohio and noticed some differences among Georgian and American churches.
First of all, it was a building design. In the Unites States I saw that church buildings are designed for social activities too. There are big halls and offices inside, because service staff is actively involved in charity and volunteer activities. On the other hand, Georgian Orthodox Church is the place where people only pray and attend services. There are different buildings for parochial schools, residences of monks or nuns, economic or social purposes and so on.
Second difference is about servicemen. In the USA I learnt that even a woman can be a minister and lead service. But traditionally, in Georgia women do not take primary role in the religious rituals. Priests are always male and they act according to strictly defined rules.
Third, in Georgia clerics always wear uniform. That is dark long dress called cassock. They appear in this way during the ceremonies as well as in the everyday life. they have long beards and very thoughtful glance. American ministers dressing style is casual and you will not differ them from the regular citizens. they are indiscernible part of the society and try to satisfy social, cultural or psychological needs of the people around
The other difference refers to their target audience. In the United States I’ve seen churches taking care exclusively on the international students. This never happens in Georgia. Orthodox Christian priests support local parish (which is really very large) rather than foreign newcomers.
In short, American and Georgian holidays have some common features (such as religious services, family gathering) although there are many details that make them very specific and unique. The aim of all religious holidays is to unite society and that those who are in need.
Do you remember any special holiday which is in November? Why is it celebrated and do you think that it’s very different from the above mentioned ones? Why does this holiday seem to be unique?