“Gviriloba” Festival: Make your own EU Flag with Chamomiles!

author: Kristine Chikhladze & Miranda Betchvaia  24-05-2019

Since childhood, 2nd May has been one of my favourite days during the year. Because on this day we celebrate the day of my hometown Kutaisi. The whole city exclusively waits for the festival and prepares for it, locals try to make the day interesting and cheerful for them and guests. If you don't know, I would like to tell you that Kutaisi is one of the oldest cities in Georgia. Its history accounts for more than 3500 years. Kutaisi is distinguished by its culture and history. It is a home for famous poets, singers, writers, athletes, scientists, and public persons. On the 2nd of May Kutaisi marks Gviriloba – an annual festival celebrating the vibrant history and cultural diversity of Kutaisi. ’Gviriloba’ comes for the Georgian word for chamomile (‘gvirila’ in Georgian). The streets are always full of happy, joyful people who are singing, dancing and congratulating to each other. It has a long history of how this festival formed. The traditional celebration comes from the 19th century when Kutaisi schoolgirls used to sell chamomiles for charity. They used to donate the raised money to help those with tuberculosis. The tradition was founded by the noblewoman Alexandra Chikovani.

People from all over the Imereti region in western Georgia and also from the whole country attend the festival, which hosts several outdoor concerts of traditional music and dancing, flea markets and a number of other cultural, educational and informational events. Visitors can also sample traditional wine and food. During the day charity, cultural, sports, exhibitions, fairs, and other events take place in the city centre and Mukhnari Park.

This year Young European Ambassadors participated in “Gviriloba” festival. It was a really great opportunity for our initiative to spread EU and the Eastern Partnership related experiences, knowledge and opportunities while enjoying positive festival vibes. The city was full of motivated and energetic youth. In Kutaisi central garden we had a stand and EU flag made of chamomiles. In addition, we used different quizzes, games, and activities in order to spread EU-Georgia related information. Our activity was diverse and interesting, also very yummy, too. We hosted youth with donuts decorated with EU flag, which made our stand more colourful and attractive. Likewise, we distributed booklets about our EaP and YEAs initiative.

From 12 PM to 4 PM place around us was crowded with people of different ages but with the same idea - to get know more about EU. 10 years old children were as interested in the European Union as the people in their forties. From our activity, I especially remember one man, he would be about 45 years old and got 10/10 in our quiz, he knew surprisingly many things about the EU. That man was really pleased when he got information about our initiative and activities through the regions of Georgia. He said that the EU is our key to success and development and underlined the important to raise people’s awareness about the EU because people’s attitudes towards it is mostly wrong, especially in people of his age. Alike, he said that he believes in youth and importance of the EU in our country’s’ development. During the event we also met one 11 years old child, this Georgian boy was a citizen of Germany and compared to his age, he knew a lot about the EU and Georgia-EU relations. He said that he definitely uses every chance that the EU provides for youth. We were extremely glad to see participants bringing their friends to our stand and sharing satisfying experience. 

Our event was really attractive, positive and full of happiness. We, YEAs shared our experiences with youth. Children under 10 years, made the EU flags with chamomiles, the youth and others filled the quizzes. Participants also enjoyed taking the photos with original IG frame. More than 300 people, including tourists, visited our stand during the festival and got information about YEAs initiative, the EU, Erasmus + and Eastern Partnership. 

In the end of the day, YEAs, full of emotions, just realised that it was the best way in their lives of spending the “Gviriloba” festival. We say it a lot, but never get tired to prove that we are stronger together.