New Year twice, even if you don’t believe in Santa

[Note: This week, we are re-posting our New Year’s 2016 blog post. Happy New Year from the CRRC-Georgia team!]

December. Cold. Christmas decorations in the streets. New Year. Champagne. Satsivi and gozinaki. Presents. Santa Claus. December 25. Or January 7? Then New Year once again, but the old one. Resolutions for the New Year and the wish on New Year’s Eve that is bound to come true.

On December 1-13, 2016, CRRC-Georgia asked the population of Georgia about their New Year’s plans. Unsurprisingly, people mostly follow established traditions. A large majority (73%) plan to ring in the New Year at home. Nine per cent will meet it in a friend’s or a relative’s home. Meeting the New Year in the street or in a restaurant or a café is not yet common, and only one per cent of people in Georgia plan to do so. Another 15% had not decided in the first half of December where they would celebrate the New Year.

Since a large majority of people celebrate New Year’s Eve at home, holiday decorations are important. Only 4% of the population does not plan to have a Christmas tree. A large majority (76%) will have an artificial tree and about one tenth (13%) a natural tree. Almost two thirds (59%) also plan to have chichilaki.

Traditionally, one of the main components of New Year’s Eve celebrations is the feast. Of the dishes from the New Year’s table, over one third of Georgia’s adult population prefers satsivi, about a fourth gozinaki, and about one tenth fried piglet.

For many, New Year’s Eve is associated with presents. About two thirds (62%) of Georgia’s population plan to buy presents for family members. Some people used to believe or still believe that presents come from the Georgian version of Santa, tovlis babua. It appears that about one third of Georgia’s adult population believed in Santa through the age of 10. However, almost one fourth (24%) never believed in Santa. Despite this, the magic of New Year’s Eve is not lost on the majority. Two thirds of the population (66%) have made a wish on New Year’s Eve.

New Year’s Eve, with its feast, tree and fireworks, is celebrated twice in Georgia. An absolute majority of people (88%) say they celebrate the so called Old New Year on January 14 as well as the ‘regular’ one, on January 1. People also seem to be interested in the Chinese calendar and closely follow which animal is the symbol of the coming year. Last year, a majority (68%) planned to or already had bought a rooster souvenir for 2017, the year of the rooster.

Just as New Year is celebrated twice, so is Christmas. About two thirds of the population (64%) believe Christmas should be celebrated on January 7, when the Orthodox Church celebrates it. However, about one tenth of people (12%) say Christmas in Georgia should be celebrated on December 25. At the same time, not so small a share of the population (18%) says that Christmas, like New Year’s Eve, should be celebrated on both these days in Georgia.