Falling on a Sunday this year, Saint George’s Day is celebrated on November 23 each year, commemorating the torture of Great Martyr George during the reign of Emperor Diocletian in 303. As one of Georgia’s patron saints (and according to local belief, a cousin of Saint Nino), his feast is celebrated with vigour, coming as it does a week before the Nativity Fast begins.
When Christianity was adopted by the Georgian state, many of the new churches built were dedicated to Saint George. According to “Lives of the Georgian Saints” by Archpriest Zakaraiah Machitadze;
The holy martyr is appropriately considered the intercessor for all Christians and the patron saint of many. He is regarded with special reverence among the Georgian people, since he is believed to be the special protector of their nation. Historical accounts often describe how St. George appeared among the Georgian soldiers in the midst of battles.
The majority of Georgian churches (in villages especially) were built in his honour and, as a result, every day there is a feast of the great-martyr George somewhere in Georgia. The various daily commemorations are connected to one of the churches erected in his name or an icon or a particular miracle he performed.
November 10 (in the Julian Calendar) marks the day on which Saint George was tortured on the wheel. According to tradition, this day of commemoration was established by the holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Nino, the Enlightener of Georgia. Saint Nino was a relative of Saint George the Trophy-bearer. She revered him deeply and directed the people she had converted to Christianity to cherish him as their special protector.
Ertsulovneba, the Georgian television station operated by the Church of Georgia, yesterday released this very interesting documentary on the importance of Saint George to Georgians, examining different regional traditions associated with Giorgoba.