Ethiopian Christmas

January 7, 2013

Ethiopian Nativity

Melkam Ganna! That’s “Merry Christmas” in Amharic; Ethiopia follows the ancient Julian calendar, so January 7 is their Christmas holiday. It’s primarily a religious celebration in Ethiopia: People wear white and fast before attending long, traditional church services in the morning. The rest of the day is dedicated to feasting at home with relatives and friends, while the men and boys may also play sports. Doro wat — a traditional spicy chicken stew that takes hours to make — is often served. Gift-giving is not a big part of the day, although children may receive clothing.

We plan to celebrate Ethiopian Christmas each year with our girls in some way. This year, we’re waiting for the weekend, when there will be a gathering at a local Ethiopian restaurant for families in the area who’ve adopted Ethiopian children. We’ll all celebrate Ethiopian Christmas over traditional food and a coffee ceremony, then we’ll have the girls open some of the gifts we’ve been holding back. Some wonderful friends also happened to send a box a few days ago that contained presents for S and H, as well as some Ethiopian spices, so it’s perfect timing.

I love learning about how other cultures celebrate holidays. If you’re interested in the same, this short BBC segment about Christmas in Ethiopia is worth watching.

Image found here

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