Getting Ready for Georgian Toasting
May 16, 2020
Get to know the Georgian traditions of drinking, toasting and feasting - run by tamada
Once the newcomers find themselves at supra - a Georgian feast, they might be overwhelmed by several things: amount of food, amount of wine per capita per hour, and amount of toasts.
Toasting is essential for the traditional Georgian gathering. Of course, you might not experience it in a trendy bar, or in a nightclub, but a big meal among old friends, an extended family circle, or a guest arriving from far might trigger the opening of a magic box full of folk wisdom.
There is always a person that runs the table - tamada. Usually it is one of the most respected men at the table, known for his entertainment skills. Yes, female tamadas are a big rarity, but in 2020, you can already experience the cases when a woman leads the supra.
One of the main words to remember is “Gaumarjos!” - related to the word “victory” (“gamarjveba”), it is the fierce Georgian equivalent of “Cheers!”. In the speech, it requires a letter -s after the subject of the toast. For example, if you want to raise a glass to your friend Giorgi, you need to say: “Giorgis gaumarjos!”. However, if you want to say “to you”, it will be “gagimarjos”. But let’s not make it too complicated!
We’ll give you an idea about the main themes, so that you can use it as a guideline to impress your hosts, once in Georgia. Quite often there is a strict sequence of toasts. The first three are the must, the rest and their order is up to tamada.
God / blessing of the table
Many Georgians are very religious, therefore, the first toast goes up to the One who gave us life, and the marvelous opportunity to meet and enjoy this meal together.
The short version of the toast would sounds like “Dideba Uphals” - “Glory to God”. No gaumarjos in this case.
The absence of wars and disasters gives space to development, prosperity, growth… and supras with friends and dear guests. That’s why peace is essential for this small nation that survived many, many terrible wars throughout its history.
The short version: mshvidobas gaumarjos!
To the country
This toast usually goes to hospitable Georgia and the countries of the guests that are present at the table.
To Georgia: Sakartvelos gaumarjos!
To our countries: Chven kveknebs gaumarjos!
Reason for gathering
If you find yourself at a birthday, then the toast will be raised to the one who is celebrating, or to their parents, if they are present. If the reason for the gathering is your decision to spend your summer in Georgia - then be ready to be praised and encouraged to drink your first bottom-up tonight. Yay! Don’t forget to drink water, too.
Usually, Georgians are very fond of their families. If you appear to attend a supra in the family circle, be ready to get introduced to everyone - and drink to everyone’s health!
To those who are not with us
The ancestors’ toast is also one of the most popular, and almost obligatory. Respecting those who paved the way for you is very important!
To the future
After remembering those who passed away, one usually toasts the future generations - if there are any kids around, they are usually called and get their portion of extra cuddling.
...is all you need, that’s why people usually mention this incredible feeling. Love to your partner, friends, parents and this world means a lot!
To everything good that happened to us, those people who helped create those moments, and those happy moments that are about to happen in the future. Isn’t it good?
No, it’s not about the famous monastery. It’s about a return of the toast - the tamada is offering the word to someone who is present at the table. It is a big honour and big responsibility.
We wish you a smooth and memorable supra experience! Please don’t forget to drink water, and store a couple of mineral water bottles for the day after.