This text that you are about to read will be a little different. You will read about faith.
I don't know if this could be related to the cultural heritage of the country, but Georgians themselves are certainly part of it.
And when I think of the Georgian people, I think of faith in all dimensions.

84% of Georgians are Orthodox Christians and this has been the case since the year 486 when the Bulgarian state was not yet established. The truth is that I have never seen more religious people, especially Christians. Yes, most of you must have been to Greece or heard about the strict observance of the canon, and the fact that there is a small chapel in almost every courtyard of a house. In Georgia, things are a little different, most families go to confession every week. As far as I understood from the stories of my Georgian friends, the priest, in addition to playing the role of mediator between God and the earthly world, is also a kind of psychoanalyst or therapist, because he often analyzes and discusses the sins or problems of the laity. One of my friends told me that her relationship with her family priest is not good and that she is trying hard to find a new one with whom she feels good.
During my stay in Georgia, there was an order for all people to wear masks both indoors and outdoors due to the covid 19 pandemic. I was absolutely surprised, I would say shocked, that everyone followed this order. I have happened to stand on my terrace at one after midnight when the traffic has decreased a lot, but still, every human being wears a mask. I couldn't believe I was seeing a single person and another wouldn't pass in the next hour. In fact, that was one of the first things that impressed me about these people. I called it discipline.
After some time, however, I realized that the percentage of vaccinated people in the country is very low. I was curious and read an article about the first death hours after a vaccine against the virus was administered. It was about a young nurse who gets vaccinated while the media takes pictures of her and says she believes in medicine. And after a few hours, her body reacts in an extremely dangerous and rare way and she dies.
This case has caused many protests and frightened Georgians.
I thought that this was the reason for the low percentage of people vaccinated, but I was wrong.
I later found out that the church had taken a neutral side on vaccination and many people pointed to this as the reason for the low vaccination rate. Masks, on the other hand, were approved by the church and people very strictly began to wear them. I give examples from the pandemic because it was something I saw with my own eyes, but I heard stories where Georgian activists tried to hold pride in Tbilisi and there were very big clashes directly with priests.
For many years, the church has had a strong influence on Georgians, and they strongly believe in the institution itself. They also believe in God and truly their faith is one of the strongest I have ever seen.


On the very first day when I arrived in Georgia, I witnessed a protest (see the video) and immediately became interested in what it was provoked by and what the protesters' demands were. Then I found out the long or rather the short version of the long story about the president of Georgia.
Mikheil Saakashvili organized a people's coup d'état, called by the media "revolution of roses", because in 2003, over 100,000 people held roses in their hands and protested for about two weeks. The very next year, Saakashvili won the elections with 96% and a huge voter turnout that remains in the history of Georgia. To be honest with you, I would define myself as apolitical, but still - a person with a civic position and everything I heard about this former president impressed me a lot, but the most curious thing was that everyone I heard talking and telling about him, spoke with love and hope that he would return again as ruler.
When Saakashvili became president in 2004, the country saw remarkable growth in GDP and was declared the number 1 economic reformer country in the world. It also ranks 11th in terms of improving the business environment and has begun negotiations for Georgia's membership in NATO and the EU. In fact, this is the first Georgian president who is a symbiosis between the Soviet school and Western political techniques. His management continues established traditions and outlines new priorities.
Over time, from various sources, I received information about the administration of this politician. One day we had to travel to a small town near Tbilisi for training. Several of the participants were late, and much more than allowed. Then I found out that there are protests again and today is the day that the trial will take place in which the former president will be tried for abuse of power. Then I started asking questions and the things they told me I didn't read after that on the internet. My Georgian friends told me that before Saakashvili became president, they had a power regime and sometimes they didn't have electricity for weeks, I also found out that the queues outside the grocery stores were huge and people only managed to buy bread because they had no money for anything else. Crime was so high you could be shot in the street just for fun, one of the girls told me that's how her own grandmother was injured.
I learned that when he became president, crime decreased to the point where Georgians even left their cars unlocked, education became affordable, and incomes generally increased. People began to believe that the country would become a member of the EU and everything would change. However, the way he used to reduce crime was shocking. He changed the rules in the prisons, how officially and legally this happened, I don't know, but they started torturing and torturing all the prisoners. The torture was so great that crime dropped immediately because no one wanted to go to jail. Videos appeared in the public space, which caused protests and after Saakashvili's second term, deprived him of the opportunity for a third. Cases were opened, but he fled to Moldova and hid there for about eight years, during which he was convicted several times in absentia.
He was now returned and arrested in Georgia, and during his arrest, he went on hunger strike because he believed he was innocent. I listened to the stories and for the first time I saw this hope of the young people who talked to me about the bright political future of the country.
The case ended and Saakashvili was convicted. I have no idea how this narrative sounds, maybe naive, maybe very extreme, and I guess many of you who are interested in politics and follow this news would say that this is one side of the coin. I, however, am telling you about faith. The belief that Georgia will become a member of the European Union. I am telling you about the slight envy I felt for Bulgaria, for our membership.

I will jump from politics to one of the most popular Georgian customs that many of you have heard of, toasts. A toast is a word or soliloquy spoken for someone's longevity and prosperity at the table. Georgians drink a lot of alcohol, really a lot, but they also like to talk. To be honest, before I left the country, I thought that toasts were a thing of the past and most likely, a tradition observed only at formal events such as weddings or birthdays. Several times I happened to be at dinner or lunch with Georgian company, and I really enjoyed listening to the toasts that everyone came up with.
This is the Georgian word for toast and is pronounced "sadgigrdzelo". Cheers, it is gaumarjos (guamarjos) and is used when there are only two of you at the table, but when there is a large company the word is gagimarjos (gagimarjos).
The person who raises a glass and starts the toast is called تامادا (toaster), and I myself thought that with him the stories end and the eating begins, because usually the tables are filled with very delicious food. However, the break is not long, because everyone wants to be a toastmaster. Someone else gets up, raises a glass and starts talking, and the others stop eating, listen and usually nod in agreement.
The topics that are most popular among toasts are related to the blessing of God, I can even say that almost all toasts start with this one. There are toasts to peace, to the homeland, to the family, to those who are not among us, to the future, to sweet memories, to nature and fertility, even to business. When I happen to be at dinner with just one person, then he toasts to women in the whole world, then to poets, then to wine, then to sunsets.
All the words I heard and of course half of them were not translated, but the energy I saw pouring from the eyes and mouths of these people spoke of faith. Faith for a better future and gratitude for the present. It may seem strange to you, but the toasts were one of the most beautiful things I saw and heard in Georgia. Because words are magical and flow so beautifully, because Georgians are eloquent and very talkative, because they can enchant with the wonderful melody of their language and because they believe in goodness.
I told you all these stories because I encountered unadulterated and pure faith, which is one of the most beautiful cultural heritages that I recognized as a line in people.
I loved the Georgians and began to believe in them.
I would like them to have what they believe in, which is simple – to live in peace and have a chance at a good life.