We hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! We were able to celebrate the holiday a bit early at the beginning of November, when all the Peace Corps Georgia folks were gathered in one place for a conference. So we did get some turkey and stuffing and pumpkin pie in this holiday season, even if not this past week.
On Tuesday, November 23 we had a Georgian holiday--St. George's Day (Giorgoba), which gave us a day off of school. Our Armenian host town doesn't really do any special celebrating for St. George, but around Georgia there are feasts and family gatherings that sound about on par with Thanksgiving.
On Thanksgiving day, Sam and I went to school like any normal day. We talked with our students during our English clubs after school about Thanksgiving and played some speaking games that had a strongly food-based theme (Me: What kind of food would you want for your holiday? My tenth grade students: We would want dumplings and stuffed grape leaves and cakes and cognac!). Then we came home and spent the evening with our host family and some friends, who came by with cookies to congratulate us on our American holiday. We were also able to talk with some of our family members via Skype (I got lots of kisses blown my way by a sleepy looking Frankie!), which was very nice.
This weekend we headed back to Kortaneti to see our host family from training. They were very glad to see us and plied us with lots of delicious food, so it was like Thanksgiving weekend in the States in terms of calories consumed. Our host mom, Maia, and Kelsey's host mom, Tamila, also spent the weekend making a treat that Georgians love to eat during the winter holidays, called churchkhela. To make churchkhela, first you have to string walnuts on a string (just like strining popcorn for the Christmas tree!). Then, you make a concoction of grape juice, flour and a little sugar, heating it until it starts to thicken to a thick paste-goo. Next you have to dip the strung walnuts in the goo until thickly coated and let them cool and harden. The end result is something like fruit leather or a fruit rollup with nuts and a little like Turkish delight. It's pretty tasty and Sam got some good pictures of the concoction being concocted.
The grape juice/flour mix being heated
Walnuts strung and ready for dipping
Finished churchkhela hanging to dry
Now we're back in town and getting ready for the first semester of school to wind down. We have four more weeks until winter break--our last day of school is December 24. We'll have off until January 20, and until then it sounds like we'll just be feasted and stuffed with food for the month-long break. We'll be sure to take lots of pictures of the upcoming feasts and festivities! We hope that all of you (and us, too!) survive the craziness of school during the last few weeks before winter break!