Understanding Christmas in EthiopiaRich Stigall
Last Tuesday, January 7th, my flight landed in Addis accompanied by Rocking Around the Christmas Tree playing over plane’s PA system. My aisle mate and new friend, Teshome, leaned over and said, “Happy Christmas!” He then proceeded to explain to me that Ethiopia’s Christmas was in January due to their calendar, which also made the year 2006. (Rather than getting into Julian vs. Gregorian, I’ll just quote Huck Finn: “Please don’t ask me any more questions. I’ve already told you more than I know.”) So with a “when in Rome” approach, I replied with a nod and my own “Happy Christmas,” which felt like a promising combo gone awry, and Teshome and I went our own “Merry” ways…
Yesterday in Hossana (one of our GO Africa church partners), I was told another Ethiopian Christmas story. Last week, members of the Kale Hewyot church prepared a calf and cooked a feast for the 20 orphaned children living at the Father’s House. This was the church’s idea. Their money. Their time and effort away from their own homes on Christmas day.
The children at the Father’s House? They were thrilled….as happy as kids at Christmas, enjoying the gift of family even more than the food.
Then I understood Christmas in Ethiopia. Regardless of month, year, “Happy” or “Merry,” when we receive and share the love of Jesus, it’s Christmas!
From your partners and friends in Ethiopia, “Happy Christmas!”