Thursday, January 7, 2010

Melkam Gena
Today is Thursday, January 7, 2010 or if you are Ethiopian, it's Christmas Day, January 7, 2002.

On January 1st, the twins turned 9 months old (!). As of today they have now been with us for exactly 4 months and 3 week longer than they have been with anyone else. We have now been the longest, most consistent presence in their lives as of this week. That is just a crazy thought. Every day is something new, and today the new thing for all of us is Ganna, Ethiopian Christmas.

Even though we live in Little Ethiopia, I didn't know much about Ganna so naturally I turned to the all-knowing Google and found this... excerpts below...

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...

The twins are sick sickies right now, with horrible snotty colds, so I'll be honest, I haven't put much thought into how we would celebrate Ganna. Luckily, Mimi's mom did so later tonight we'll wander over to our favorite Ethiopian restaurant and will at least get to give everyone Happy New Year and Melkam Gena hugs. But next year, I'm going to pay attention to this article and we'll have a proper celebration!

I wish I had more energy to tell you just how happy I'm feeling today...even with snot all over me, the thought that our babies are asleep in the next room, oblivious to the fact that tonight they will see all their friends, makes me smile.

More late, I promise. Melkam Gena to everyone!


  1. Melkam Gena to you too!!! It is so nice to hear from you. I can't believe you have had the twins home that long- time flies. I am officially an internet obsessive on the waitlist... hopefully next year I can have an Ethiopian in the house to celebrate Gena with ;) Have fun tonight.

  2. Melkam Gena! Have a wonderful time!!!

  3. Belated Melkam Gena! And thanks for the shout-out on your last post! I am walking on air and soooooo sosososo very happy that they are TWINS! I have to confess, when you got your referral last summer it was the first and only time that I felt a twinge of jealousy over someone else's referral. I have ALWAYS wanted twins and had been secretely hoping that it would happen for us. I am just blown away that it actually did!

    So I DO want to take you up on your offer for advice. I just ordered a twin book on amazon but there is nothing like first hand experience! My email is heidi.newcombe at if you have any tips for me, otherwise I might reach out once they come home if I need some HELP! LOL