Melkam Gena is Merry Christmas in Amharic, the main language of Ethiopia.
Today in Ethiopia, Gena is celebrated...Christmas...the birth of Christ!
Christmas is always celebrated on January 7th in Ethiopia. Last Saturday, Colin and I attended a Friends Through Adoption Melkam Gena celebration. Everyone brought an Ethiopian food to share. We brought Dabo, which is an Ethiopian honey bread. We all had so much fun! It is always great seeing all of the children running around together. It is so important for Ethiopian adoptive families to celebrate Ethiopian holidays together and/or with other families.
Here is some interesting details about the celebration from our agency, All God's Children:
On Ganna, families light candles and walk around a church carved from volcanic rock three times before attending a church service that lasts up to 3 hours. Everyone stands during this service but men and boys are separated from women and girls. During the service, Ethiopians sing hymns and read the story of Christ’s birth. The rest of day is spent dancing, playing sports, and feasting. A traditional Ganna feast includes a main course like doro wat, injera, and homemade wine or beer. Gifts are only a small part of the celebration and usually consist of something simple like clothing. A popular sporting event played during Ganna is known as gena. It is a form of field hockey where sticks with hooks are used by two opposing teams who try to outscore each other by hitting a ball with the hooked sticks. The national dress worn during Ganna is called a shamma, which is a white robe with a red stripe down the seam. Some individuals wear all white. Throughout the day, celebrations are infused with essential oil frankincense, traditionally suitable for a high priest.