Day of Creation of the World

Traditionally, on the night of 13 to 14 January Abkhazia celebrates Day of Creation of the World, which is coincides with the New Year according to the old calendar. This holiday in various parts of Abkhazia has different names: in Eastern Abkhazia – Azhyrnyhua, in Western Abkhazia – Hachhuama; although the ritual is similar. Feast of creation of the world has its origins in the ancient religion of Abkhazians. Abkhazians themselves associated it with the name of blacksmithing patron – Shashvy. The origins of respect for blacksmithing lie deep in antiquity. And to this day, smithy is considered to be a kind of a sacred place, where vows and oaths should be pronounced.

Abkhazians, carefully preserving the religious holiday Azhyrnyhua, celebrate it every year. For this holiday related families gather in the house of a senior of the family. Every family has a forge, which is a special place for such a religious festival and traditional ritual. According to tradition there must be an oak stump in the smithy. Upon this stump there must be three compulsory subjects, called “x-napyk” (three hands): anvil, tongs, and hammer. It is believed that the smithy and nearby should always be clean.

Many scientists were involved in the study of this religious celebration. In particular, Ardzynba V.G., wrote that on the occasion of the ceremony in the smithy Abkhazians opened a jug of wine made ​​from the last year harvest. Wine from this jug can’t be used for any other purpose and is intended precisely for this ritual.

Traditionally, on the eve of the feast Abkhazians sacrifice a white goat or bull, as well as a cock for each family member, even if it is a baby. By nightfall, they cook meat and pies, and then whole family goes to the sacred smithy. A prayer (householder), holding in his left hand a wooden stick with heart and liver of the sacrificial animal and a pie and holding in his right hand a glass of wine, prays to Blacksmith God and asks to take away all troubles and misfortunes of his family and relatives, also asks prosperity and peace for the whole of the world. Moreover, during the ceremony only men have the right to stay in the smithy. Participants of the rite stand around the anvil with lighted candles and continue to stand till candles burnt down. Then they drink a glass of wine, eat meat and pie, and return to the house to celebrate the New Year.

The next morning one of the family members, who is considered to be lucky, brings home a branch of ivy and walnut, and hangs them on the front of the house. It is believed that they will bring prosperity in the new year. Neighbors and relatives visit each other and wish Happy New Year.

Today, despite the minor changes, Abkhazians were able to maintain the basic meaning of this family holiday, which remains indestructible and recalls the long history of the Abkhaz people.

Asida Kvitsinia,
Specially for “Abaza Country”

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