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Chichilaki – the Georgian ritual Christmas tree was an inseparable part of New Year and Christmas tradition in ancient Georgia. Or more precisely, Western Georgia, where the New Year was called Kalanda.
Early in the morning, the Chichilaki Masters, called Veluri, would go into the forest just before the New Year, cut a branch of a hazelnut tree and soak it in water. Then, they would heat it over a fire, remove the bark and start cutting thin shavings from end to top. This is how Chichilaki – the Georgian national Christmas tree is made.
Of course, the masters knew their craft well, they would put ornaments and additional branches on the tree, but the basics of making a chichilaki are quite simple – in fact you can easily do it at home. You'll just need a hazel tree branch, a knife, a hammer and some nails.
To this day, the Chichilaki remains very popular and you won’t find a home in Western Georgia, especially villages, with a now standard Christmas pine tree not accompanied by its humble, yet beautiful Georgian competitor