Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Merry Christmas Ethiopia
In Amharic (Ethiopia) Melkam Yelidet Beaal = Merry Christmas
While excitement over Christmas festivities dies down in the other parts of the world, it marks the beginning for many Christian Ethiopians. The Ethiopian Christmas known as Ganna is celebrated on January 7th. This celebration takes place in ancient churches carved from solid volcanic rock and also in modern churches that are designed in three concentric circles. Men and boys sit separately from girls and women. Also the choir sings from the outside circle.
People receive candles as they enter the church. After lighting the candles everyone walks around the church three times, then stands throughout the mass, which may last up to three hours.
Food served at Christmas usually includes injera, a sourdough pancake like bread. Injera serves as both plate and fork. Doro wat, a spicy chicken stew might be the main meal. A piece of the injera is used to scoop up the wat. Baskets decorated beautifully are used to serve the wat.
Gift giving is a very small part of Christmas celebration. Children usually receive very simple presents such as clothing.
In Ethiopia Christmas day is January 7, so on Christmas Eve the city is crowded with pilgrims from all parts of the country. They remain outdoors all night, praying and chanting. In the morning, a colorful procession makes its way to a nearby hilltop where a service is held. Three young men march at the head of the crowd, lashing whips from left to right to keep the people in line. Those who worship are fed with bread and wine that has been blessed by priests. After the service is over the rest of the day is spent dancing, playing sport and feasting.