Ethiopian Customs and Ganna

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Yohannes Dundon
CRWT 0371-15
Mrs. Jagneaux
10/7/2012
Ethiopian Customs and Ganna
There are many festive holidays in Ethiopia, but the most important one is Christmas. Since half of the Ethiopian population is Eastern Orthodox Christian, Christmas is celebrated on January 7th, The Feast of Epiphany, rather than on December 25th. In the Eastern Orthodox Churches the observance of Epiphany included the birth of Jesus, the arrival of the three Magi (Casper, Melchior, and as some Ethiopians believe, their king Balthazar), and Jesus’s childhood events up until his Baptism. This holiday is celebrated in Ethiopia in four ways: by wearing traditional Ethiopian clothing; by attending mass; by feasting; and by playing ganna. It becomes common knowledge that Christmas is around the corner whenever the local weaver is seen weaving the traditional clothing. For the women, the weaver weaves a dress called habesha qemis and it is complimented by either gabi or netela shawl. Both the shawl and habesha qemis have decorative designs at the edges. Usually the designs consist of crosses in different colors, but some consist of random patterns. As for the men, the weaver weaves pants that fit loose around the thighs but perfect around the lower legs. A white shirt that extends down to the knee and a shawl are the compliments. The majority of the clothing for both the men and women is white and also made of cotton. Early Christmas morning, the men and women put on their traditional clothing, and they are usually kept on until bedtime. After such custom, the family as a whole heads out to attend the morning mass at the local Orthodox Church. Here, the men, the children, and the women are separated. The ceremony for the mass includes singing carols, reading from both the Torah and the New Testament (since the Orthodox Church was heavily founded on both the Jewish and the Catholic religion), and...
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