Sunday, April 17, 2011


Why do we do the things that we do?

I think that many times, whether or not we realize it, we do what we do out of tradition..... or if you're a out-of-the-proper-decade-throwback-beatnik, out of a deliberate attempt to break with tradition.

The suphra that I went to with my host family last night was a traditional one -- or should I say, the reason for the suphra was a traditional one (the suphra in and of itself is a Georgian tradition).

Back in the winter, one of Koba's cousins, Lika, got married. When a Georgian girl gets married, she traditionally moves in with her husband's family. She leaves her house and takes up residence with her in-laws. That's not so unusual in many places in the world. The unusual part is that she can't go back to her parents' house until they formally invite the newlyweds and the in-laws (and extended family and friends) to their house for a "homecoming" suphra. Georgian tradition dictates that the new wife cannot go back to her house until the homecoming suphra happens.

It's expensive to feed 50 people, especially suphra-style. It has been months since Lika got married, and she had not been back to her parents' house until last night -- it took that long for her parents to save enough money to throw a proper party.

When Tea told me about this tradition, I winced. "What??" I thought. "That's ridiculous!" (still just a thought.... not words.) Instead of criticizing the Georgian-way, I asked Tea why they have this tradition (although I'm sure she could read my initial feelings from the expression on my face..... I'm pretty transparent). She laughed. She's getting used to my need for a reason for everything. When she stopped laughing, she paused...... a long pause while she thought....... then she shrugged her shoulders. "I don't know," she stated with an air of new awareness. Awareness that there are things that are done just because they've been done that way for generations. Without knowing why. She smiled again and said that it is just one of their traditions.

My need to know why everything happens kept the conversation going. We talked about what the meaning might be behind this specific type of suphra. We decided that it is a demonstration to the community that the wife's family accepts the husband and his family into their home and lives. The daughter returns to her parents' house with her new relatives, and the two families are joined on the "home-front." At the wedding the families are joined relationally, but at the homecoming suphra, their every-day lives intertwine and are joined.

At least, that's what Tea and I think.

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