Ambrolauri Municipality hosts Christmas Alilo procession

Ambrolauri, January 7, 2024: The Ambrolauri Municipality celebrated Christmas on January 7, 2024, with a traditional Alilo procession, a charity march collecting and distributing gifts to needy people.

The Alilo procession started from the Cathedral of the Icon of the Virgin of Iveria, where a solemn mass was held. The participants, including clergy, priests and parishioners, sang carols and greeted each other on the Nativity of Christ.

The procession was joined by Racha-Lechkhum Lower Svaneti State Trustee Papuna Margvelidze, First Deputy Trustee Christina Kobakhidze, Mayor of Ambrolauri Municipality Zviad Mkheidze and Deputy Mayor Tamar Kevanashvili. They gave Christmas nobats, a traditional Georgian candy, to the Alilo participants and congratulated them on Christmas.

The procession ended at the Sameba (Holy Trinity) Cathedral, where the gifts collected during the march were distributed to socially vulnerable families. The gifts included sweets, dried fruits, churchkhela, pumpkin, eggs and other food items.

The Alilo tradition dates back to the 5th-6th centuries and is integral to the Georgian Orthodox Christmas celebration. The word “Alilo” originates from “Alleluia”, which means the glory of God. The tradition was revived in 2000 by the Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia, Ilia II, after a 70-year hiatus caused by Soviet rule.

Ambrolauri is a city in western Georgia located on both banks of the Rioni River, 550 m above sea level. It is the seat of the Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti regional administration and the Ambrolauri Municipality. The city has a population of 2,015 as of 2021.

Ambrolauri Municipality

The Ambrolauri Municipality is a self-governing subdivision in western Georgia. The governing bodies of the municipality are based in the city of Ambrolauri. With the neighbouring municipalities Lentekhi, Oni, and Tsageri, the Ambrolauri Municipality forms the Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti region. There is a wine factory, court, gym, hospital, theatre, museum and a residence of the Nikortsminda Eparchy.

Christmas Alilo procession

Alilo takes place on Christmas Day on January 7, every year. People in religious costumes are processing through the streets of Georgian cities, collecting food, sweets, and gifts accompanied by traditional Christmas songs. 

The presents are gathered in a church where the Christmas service is conducted. After the service, the food and the presents are distributed to orphanages, nursing homes, and prisons.

Zurab Kvaratskhelia

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