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Miracles of Christmas night2011-01-06 17:21
Christmas is one of the greatest holidays in Georgia celebrated from the beginning of time: it was in this land that one of the most ancient Orthodox churches was built in the times of Emperor Konstantin. Georgian manner of celebrating Christmas differs from the rest of the countries due to a very beautiful ceremony starting right after the night service. It is the Alilo festive march, a large sacred procession passing along the city; it is held by priests and church people and may be joined by anyone who wants to take part in it.
Newborn Christ is met in Georgia with an open heart and truly Caucasian hospitality. Just like other Orthodox churches, Georgian Church celebrates Christmas with a solemn night service. However, the holiday does not end with it: when the service is over, the Alilo festive march begins. It is a large sacred procession taking in anyone who wants to join it.
Priests carry church banners, crosses and icons and any one can join them on their way. Some people bring gifts as true prophets; these gifts are given to orphan homes and boarding schools after the holiday.
Christ was not a tsar's son and was not born in a palace. Bringing gifts to orphans is like paying tribute to the Son of God lying in a cradle made of a manger.
Parishioners take candles from churches that they bring home after the night march along the streets and put on window sills as a sign of being ready to welcome the tired Virgin Mary with her child in their house. This tradition reminds us of how Blessed Virgin had to give birth to Christ in a cave not far from the city because there was no room in the hotels of Bethlehem. Two thousand years have passed and thousands of lights are shimmering, indicating the people's hope that the Blessed Virgin will bestow their home with her grace.
At home, at the family table, where Christmas scones (kvertsi) are served, the Georgians will recollect the miracles of the night lit by the star of Bethlehem.
According to the legend, there were no wars in the year of Christmas and, considering the bloody history of humanity, it is a miracle already. Christ brought peace by His birth.
However, peaceful times were not the only miracle associated with His birth. As the legend goes, Christ was born at midnight on Sunday night and that night was remembered by the entire Universe.