The phenomenon of Caucasian hospitality
They collected the suitcase, took the passport, left the keys for the neighbor to water the aloe and feed the cat … on vacation! Perfectly! But it’s interesting, have you ever wondered what you expect from a vacation? Just relax, take a selfie near famous sights, try foreign cuisine? Then you have a way to tourist places. But if you want to feel the soul of the country, to see the local flavor, to touch on unique traditions – this, my friend, you will not find in the resort. For authenticity you need to go on a visit.
– Yes, yes, so they are waiting for us there! – the reader will skeptically skimp.
Waiting somewhere, but not waiting somewhere. Only now there are places where “the uninvited guest is worse than the Tatar”, but there are places in which they believe that “the guest is from God.” The second proverb from time immemorial to this day on the lips of the peoples of the Caucasus. It is their phenomenal hospitality that will be dedicated to this article.
What is Caucasian hospitality, where did it come from?
We say “phenomenal”, because the tradition of hospitality of Georgians, Armenians, in Azerbaijan or the Caucasian part of Russia differs from the traditions of meeting and receiving strangers from other hospitable peoples. Yes, any normal person will welcome guests. But if you look closely, it turns out that I’m glad, but only if by invitation or if it is a good friend, relative, very respected person, or if usually comes with a bunch of treats. But in the Caucasus they will welcome any peaceful wanderer, even the unexpected, even the stranger, even if he is poor or seeks refuge from the chase. In mountain traditions, the owners ’generosity towards the guest is sacred, and to anyone who comes to refuse treats and gifts out of politeness or to offer money for food and overnight, this offends them!
Surprised by such a phenomenon even travelers, ethnographers, and writers who saw the views, including Lermontov and Tolstoy, praised the hospitable Caucasus, its extraordinary generosity, sincerity, and sincerity … “What are you delaying, traveler, at the doorstep? Get off the camping horse. An occasional guest is a gift from God. I have koumiss and honey, ”wrote Mikhail Yuryevich, and this was not an exaggeration of the poet.
Indeed, the traveler could not worry about having to sleep in the open air – he could come to any village, knock on any door and he would be welcomed. After all, it was believed that God brings the visitor, and that “wherever the guest does not look, good will not go there.” Some houses even kept an empty and clean separate room, so that there was always a ready place for an overnight visit. He will be generously fed, given the best wine to thank-you prayers, give warm clothes … Moreover, the foundations demanded that the mountaineer owner ensure complete safety for the guest (even if it suddenly turns out that there is a blood feud between their families), he literally answered with his head and honor for the one sheltered. When the visitor left, he was escorted and given gifts on the road.
Everything will be fine, brother! But it is not exactly
That’s why the mountain peoples became famous! The tradition of welcoming guests on their lands is so old and deeply rooted that it is holyly observed in the modern multifaceted world, which has abolished some other old Caucasian traditions.
At this point, today’s travelers may not agree. And they will be right in their own way. The fact is that the tourism boom has somewhat deformed the contingent of resort areas – the attitude of local people to foreigners now represents a strange cocktail of traditional hospitality and modern craving to earn money on come. That is, on the one hand, they widely smile at you, shake hands and assure any question “everything will be fine, brother.” And when it comes down to business, it suddenly turns out that you need to pay more, or it was not clear where they brought it or some other kind of harmless, but unpleasant surprise arises. Of course, this does not always happen, but the trend is observed and tourists have the wrong impression of the notorious Caucasian hospitality.
That is why at the beginning we said that if you go on a trip to the lands of the highlanders and want not only to admire the snowy peaks, but also to know the soul of the land – the people, then do not get stuck in big cities and popular tourist zones. If you want to see what hospitality of the Georgian, Armenian, Azerbaijani people really is – go to the outback and get to know the locals!
A typical situation: I met a man in the village, caught hold of him word for word, and now your name is to see the local beauties, drink, fry the barbecue and stay until tomorrow. And all this is sincere, from the heart. The most valuable thing in this step is not the national cuisine and quality wine (after all, they treat you with what you do for yourself). The most valuable thing is cordial communication, close contact with a unique culture, the opportunity to feel authentic life and expand the worldview with real experience, and not shortcuts from the screen. Only in this way will you see the true face of the Caucasus, and not the way that dysfunctional stereotypes draw it.