Christmas is Ethiopia!!!
Tomorrow the country of Ethiopia will celebrate Christmas. Ethiopia is one of the oldest nations in Africa and follows the Julian calendar (thus, celebrating on Jan 7th). The Ethiopian Orthodox Church's celebration of Christ's birth is called Ganna. Ganna is actually the name for a hockey-like game played with wooden sticks and a round, wooden ball -- it is believed to have been played by shepherds and still played today.
Christmas trees are not apart of their celebration, however, the manger scene is!
On Christmas Eve, Christians attend church (for some, this service can last well into the morning). On Christmas day, many Ethiopians wear a traditional shamma, which us a thin, white cotton wrap with brightly colored stripes across the ends – it is worn somewhat like a toga. Everyone goes to the early mass . Upon arrival, everyone is given a candle and the congregation walks around the church 3 times. Then they gather in second circle (men and boys are separate form girls and women). The choir sings from an outer circle, and the inner circle is from where the priest serves Communion.
Traditional Christmas dish includes Injera, a sourdough pancake like bread, which serves as both plate and fork (which we will get to sample while we’re in Ethiopia). Wat, a spicy chicken stew, is also served. Giving gifts is not customary during an Ethiopian Christmas (hmmmmm!!! – don’t get me wrong, I’m all for giving gifts, but commercialism has warped our celebration of Jesus’ birth) -- children will typically receive clothes as presents. Families dance, play games and feast for the rest of the day.
On Jan 19th, twelve days after Ganna, Ethiopians celebrate Timkat – a commemoration of Christ’s Baptism.
I’ve read that Christmas is important in Ethiopia, but that Easter is a much larger celebration. This is because death is considered more significant than birth.
We will include these Ethiopian celebrations into our own family traditions, so that we will have a deep understanding and appreciation for Little Martin’s hertitage/culture…yes, he is becoming an American, but we are likewise becoming Ethiopian!!!
Merry Christmas, Little Martin...see you soon!!!