Christmas is an annual universal festival celebrated around the world. People living across the equator especially in the Southern and Northern hemisphere like Australia and Africa experience Christmas in summers. However, white Christmas is observed in North America, Antarctica and Eurasia.
Ethiopia is one such destination where Christmas is celebrated every year on January 7, unlike the European Christmas which is always celebrated on December 25 every year, since Ethiopians follow the ancient Julian calendar. Ethiopian Christmas is celebrated at the Ethiopian Cultural Centre in New Delhi each year where they showcase Ethiopian art, music, dance and it also boasts about being the only outlet in India that serves Ethiopian cuisine.
The Ethiopian Orthodox Church’s celebration of Christ’s birth is called Ganna. Ethiopians wear traditional shamma, a thin, white cotton wrap with coloured stripes across the ends. The priests are dressed in turbans, red and white robes, and carry an embroidered umbrellas. 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 candles.
Males play a game that is also called ganna which is similar to hockey. The food enjoyed during the Christmas season include wat, a thick, spicy stew of meat, vegetables, and eggs. Wat is served from a decorated basket onto a plate of injera, aflat sourdough bread. Pieces of injera are used as an edible spoon to scoop wat.
Ganna is not an occasion for giving gifts in Ethiopia. If children receive gifts, they are usually small gifts of clothing. Religious observances, feasting and games are the focus of the season.