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New Year in Abkhaz and Ossetian style2011-01-03 12:56
Caucasian hospitality has long become legendary. Mountaineers like to have fun and know how to do it and there is no match for the Abkhaz and Ossetians in their ability to create a festive atmosphere. When the New Year time comes, they always find something to surprise their guests with. Within their many-thousand-year history, the Abkhaz and Ossetians have developed plenty of customs and traditions connected with seeing the New Year in.
In Abkhazia, the holiday is celebrated with the words "Chaanybziala ashykus chyts!", which means "Happy New Year!" Guests and relatives are treated with boiled meat and chicken seasoned with the adjika poignant sauce. There are traditional cheese dishes, mamalyga and cakes (achash), on the festive table in Abkhazia. And, of course, there is no holiday without a glass of homemade wine to accompany the toasts to health and luck in the coming year.
According to the ancient custom originating from the agricultural life of the ancient Abkhaz, children go from house to house, visiting neighbours and friends and "sowing" with the following words: "We sow, we winnow, we wish you a Happy New Year!", getting various sweet things from the owners of the houses.
The peak of the New Year fun is the Khechkhuama day - the old style new year, which is a non-working day in the republic. Another name for the holiday is Azhyrnykhua, the creation of the world, the renovation. In ancient times, sacrifices were made to Shashva, the patron of blacksmiths, one of the most worshipped gods in Abkhazia. In those times, all traditional types of activities had their patrons: agriculture, cattle-breeding and hunting. However, the ability to produce instruments of labour and weapon - smithcraft - was especially appreciated. A forge was considered to be a holy place: oaths were sworn there.
Today, the pagan symbolism of Azhyrnykhua became less significant but the holiday retains its popularity. On the contrary, it has acquired the status of a "real" New Year among the modern Abkhaz, though they also celebrate the traditional New Year on the night of January, 1.
According to the tradition, goats and cocks are killed on the day of making sacrifices to Shashva. All the relatives on the father's side of the family get together in the family sanctuary, the forge. Wives and daughters-in-law are not allowed to take part in the holy ritual as representatives of the alien families. A clean gelded goat or a white unbred she-goat is killed, as well as one cock from each participant of the ritual.
In South Ossetia, they like to celebrate the New Year as much as in Abkhazia. They call it