Saint Nicholas icon, Georgia
St Nicholas Center Collection
Saint Nicholas (Tsminda Nikolozi) is still well-known in Georgia, where many Georgian Orthodox churches are dedicated to him. Religious traditions were severely restricted during the seventy-year Soviet era, causing once familiar religious and related folk customs to be lost. Of course, Saint Nicholas remained an important saint in the Orthodox tradition.
Grandfather Frost, Tovlis Babua in Georgia, replaced Saint Nicholas as the winter gift-giver, coming at New Year's instead of St. Nicholas feast day. The special foods associated with Saint Nicholas also shifted to New Year's Day, such as gozinaki, a candy made with honey and walnuts.
Perhaps Saint Nicholas will be able to reclaim a visible place in Georgian life.