Friday, January 7, 2011

Merry Christmas in Ethiopia

Christmas is a major holiday in Ethiopia where more than half of the population is Orthodox Christian. The celebrations occur today, on January 7, the Feast of the Epiphany, instead of December 25.

Ways to celebrate Ethiopian Christmas:

1. Make sure to set up a manger scene that includes the Three Magi. Legend has it that the king bearing frankincense was King Balthazar of Ethiopia.

When I was little, the mother of one of my friends would have the three Wise Men travel all over the living room until this day, when they finally reached the manger. I might have to do when the baby is home. Of course that means, I won't get to completely de-Christmas my house when I usually do.

2. Infuse the celebrations with the essential oil frankincense, which was traditionally a gift suitable for a high priest. Today you can mix frankincense with spices or seeds to create different aromas, or you can burn frankincense incense.

Perhaps my crafty self can create some sort of sachet.

3. Attend a local Christian Orthodox service if there are any nearby. Keep in mind that the services sometimes require that men and women sit in separate areas and that services can last up to three hours.

If I can sit through Easter vigil, I think I can handle this.

4. Sing carols and carry candles either during the service or afterward.

5. Prepare an Ethiopian feast for the Christmas meal that includes a main course, such as doro wat (a spicy chicken stew), injera bread (flat round bread) and homemade wine or beer. Keep in mind that injera bread is used to scoop and eat food, hence replacing utensils. The Christmas meal, which is served January 7, is preceded by major preparations that include the purchase and slaughter of an animal (typically a goat or cow).

There will be no slaughtering of the animal. Meat comes magically from Wegmans.

And of course, these celebrations will include Doreen and her boys (one from Ethiopia) and Chris and little Julianna. Any maybe we can Skype in with Jennifer and Big A and Little A.


  1. HEE hee. You mean you won't bring your baby here so Big A, Little A, and I can have our feast together with her or him?

    Seriously, skype us next year! I can't wait.

  2. Meat DOES come magically from Wegman's.

    ;) Heather

  3. Can't wait until we get to Ethiopian Christmas party SOON!