Junior Afomia Assefa celebrates Ethiopian Christmas

Lina Al Taii, International Editor

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Christmas in the Ethiopian culture is celebrated on Jan. 7 going by
the Ethiopian Orthodox Church which still follows the old Julian
Calender.
“To me, Ethiopian Christmas means a time to recognize and appreciate
my religion, family, and culture,”” junior Afomia Assefa said.
In Ethiopia, the Christmas celebration is called Genna or Liddet and
the preparations begin a week in advance, while the actual Christmas
celebration is only one day. “
The Ethiopian Christmas starts with a fasting period of 40 days
beginning on Nov. 21 and ending on Jan. 7.
“We fast by not eating any dairy, meat or other animal products so
it’is basically a vegan type of fast,” Assefa said.
The traditional celebrations begin on the eve of Christmas.
“We usually go to church the night before and spend the night there,
and then come home the next day and feast on cultural food and just
spend the rest of the day together with family and close friends,”
Assefa said.
Spending time at church is one of the most important parts of
Ethiopian Christmas.
“We have church service for a few hours and then we sing hymns,” Assefa said.
On Christmas day, Ethiopians eat cultural food such as injera,
samosas, wot, cake, and baklava.
“My mom cooks all week in preparation for the celebration, but the
actual celebration happens all on Jan. 7,” Assefa said.
One notable difference between Ethiopian Christmas and the traditional
American Christmas is that most Ethiopian families don’t give or
recieve presents on Christmas day.
“Giving presents just isn’t part of the tradition. It’s more about
recognizing the gift of God rather than the physical gifts,” Assefa
said.
Though most Ethiopian families celebrate the holiday in the U.S., some
go back to Ethiopia to see other family members.
“I went to Ethiopia in 2010. It’is chaotic, but fun. There are a lot
of beaches, resorts, and pretty landscapes to visit, but there is also
just a lot going on at the same time,” Assefa said.
Americanized Ethiopian families celebrate Ethiopian Christmas, but
also celebrate American Christmas the normal way with dinner,
presents, and family.
This blending of different traditions is very common in American
Ethiopian families.
Overall, the meaning of Christmas is the same and the change in date
is due to the different calendar the Ethiopian Orthodox Church
follows.

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