"Every child deserves a home." --Harry Holt

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Melkam Genna- Ethiopian Christmas

If we were in Ethiopia tonight, we would be celebrating Christmas Eve. Not only that, but it is Christmas eve 2003 there! Crazy, right?! They follow the Coptic calendar (New Year or Enkutatash is celebrated on September 11). I'm always telling kids that in order to master a subject, they should explain or teach it to someone else. Well people, in my head the calendar difference makes sense, but it gets all twisted when I try to explain it so I linked to a wike: HERE- best wishes in deciphering it :)

Admittedly, I didn't know too much about Ethiopian Christmas or Melkam Genna (in fact, I'm not sure I'm spelling that 2nd word right because I've also seen Gena?) So, I did what I do best...I used google! I know, I'm a product of my generation. I don't even own an encyclopedia. I wasn't able to find as much as I would like, but I did (probably not legally) copy and past a little explanation.

Christmas is a major holiday in Ethiopia. More than half of the population of Ethiopia is Orthodox Christian. The celebration occurs on January 7, the Feast of the Epiphany, instead of December 25...

On Christmas Eve, January 6, the city is crowded with pilgrims and tourists from all parts of the world. The people remain outdoors all night, praying and chanting. On January 7, the Ethiopian Christmas known as Ganna is celebrated. The word Ganna is used interchangeably with the word Christmas, to mean the birth of Jesus Christ (leddat). This celebration takes place in ancient churches carved from solid volcanic rock of that day and also in more modern churches that are designed in three concentric circles. Men and boys sit separately from the girls and women. People receive candles as they enter their church. After lighting the candles, everyone walks around the church three times, and then they all stand throughout the church service which may last up to three hours. After the service, the rest of the day is spent dancing, playing sports and feasting.

The preparation of the feast is an important part of the day in Ethiopia. A typical Ethiopian feast for the Christmas meal includes a main course, such as doro wat ( a spicy chicken stew), injera bread (Which is a flat round bread) and homemade wine or beer. The injera bread is used to scoop and eat the food, thereby replacing ordinary utensils. Gift giving in an Ethiopian Christmas celebration is a very small part of this ceremony. Children, if they receive gifts, usually receive simple presents such as clothing. But, a very important part of the celebration is a sporting event called gena. This game is a form of field hockey in which sticks with hooks at one end are used. The game is played by having two opposing teams trying to outscore each other hitting a ball with their sticks. Usually, the sticks and balls are made from locally grown trees. In Ethiopia, the opposing teams often represent certain regions and the rivalry in these games can be intense. According to tradition, shepherds celebrated when they heard of Jesus’ birth by playing this such game...

So, what are we doing to celebrate? Honestly, we are going to work, and then probably going to bed. I think I'm fighting something off...(I don't have time to get sick!?) Hopefully, next year we are able to mark the occasion as a family and make some Ethiopian food (read: try) and play some games together! 


We received an update from our agency yesterday. There was a lot of information that will affect all of the families in process. At this point, I'll spare you the details, but will say that it most likely means more delays. We have been in this process for over 10 months and have been waiting for our referral for 5. We knew that things had slowed because when we originally started the process, we were told to expect a 3-6 month referral wait, but most families were not waiting too much over 3 months. We would appreciate your prayers for our family, our child (who is out there in Ethiopia! We also ask that you pray for his/her birth family. A longer wait makes me want to puke in my mouth a little, but then I think of what the wait means for our child. He/she is the one enduring the hard stuff, and I still get to sit in my comfy house with my loving husband, typity typing on my laptop, eating all the food I want (even though I shouldn't do that last one!) Hey, it's still Christmas somewhere!


Talking myself into being a little more like that crazy (in a fun loving way) guy, Paul...
"Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content." -- Philippians 4:11



 
 

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