Thursday, January 7, 2010

Ganna! (Ethiopian Christmas Today!)

Today is Ganna in Ethiopia! (well, maybe it was yesterday, since we're behind them in time...)

Ganna is what they call Christmas, and it's celebrated January 7th, instead of December 25th. Another side's actually 29 Tahsas 2002 in Ethiopia...they have a totally different calendare there than we do here. It's kind of strange to think our daughter was born in 2002 there, but 2009 here.'s a few tidbits about Christmas in Ethiopia...we look forward to having two fun days to celebrate in our family in the future!

Ethiopia is one of the oldest nations in Africa. It still follows the ancient Julian calendar, so Ethiopians celebrate Christmas on January 7. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church's celebration of Christ's birth is called Ganna. It is a day when families attend church.

On January 19, Ethiopians begin the three-day celebration called Timkat.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
On January 19, Ethiopians begin the
three-day celebration called Timkat.

The day before Ganna, people fast all day. The next morning at dawn, everyone dresses in white. Most Ethiopians don a traditional shamma, a thin, white cotton wrap with brightly colored stripes across the ends. The shamma is worn somewhat like a toga. Urban Ethiopians might put on white Western garb. Then everyone goes to the early mass at four o'clock in the morning. In a celebration that takes place several days later, the priests will dress in turbans and red and white robes as they carry beautifully embroidered fringed umbrellas.

Most Ethiopians who live outside the modern capital city, Addis Ababa, live in round mud-plastered houses with cone-shaped roofs of thatched straw. In areas where stone is plentiful, the houses may be rectangular stone houses. The churches in Ethiopia echo the shape of the houses. In many parts of the country there are ancient churches carved out of solid volcanic rock. Modern churches are built in three concentric circles.

In a modern church, the choir assembles in the outer circle. Each person entering the church is given a candle. The congregation walks around the church three times in a solemn procession, holding the flickering candles. Then they gather in the second circle to stand throughout the long mass, with the men and boys separated from the women and girls. The center circle is the holiest space in the church, where the priest serves Holy Communion.

Around the time of Ganna, the men and boys play a game that is also called ganna. It is somewhat like hockey, played with a curved stick and a round wooden ball.

The foods enjoyed during the Christmas season include wat, a thick, spicy stew of meat, vegetables, and sometimes eggs as well. The wat is served from a beautifully decorated watertight basket onto a "plate" of injera, which is flat sourdough bread. Pieces of injera are used as an edible spoon to scoop up the wat. (taken from here)

I found this article, and I think next year we'll do some of these celebrations with our family.

1 comment:

Amber said...

Ganna to you all!

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